“How to Write a Sentence” from the New Yorker (seriously)

sentence[The following are, verbatim, the first several paragraphs of this profound and priceless sentence-writing guide as it appeared in the august New Yorker magazine. ]

 

Well, here you are, looking at this, trying, hoping, floundering, scrabbling, wishing, dying to find out the mystery of “how to” write a sentence. Or possibly you have tried write sentence and failed utterly.

Never mind and never fear. I am an, thankfully, expert of sentences. Read on and be disbelieving! There is much to have taught you, and little time, so very, very little and small time.

Where shall/should you/one start/begin? At the start/beginning, of course! You ought always, and in everything you do, to begin a sentence at the beginning. It is simply no good to start in the middle and work your way out. I guarantee that you will become confused and have to sit down, or lie down if you’re already sitting, and perhaps turn off the lights and do some breathing.

Ideally, you’ll aim to begin on the left (in this case, with the word “ideally”), head right (through the middle of the sentence), and stop at the far end of the sentence (in this case, right here).

Sentences have been around since the dawn of paragraphs, and indeed since before that, for sentences are essentially the building blobs of a paragraph. Right here, if you’re looking closely enough, you may notice that what you are now reading in fact is a sentence. But also—some will have noticed even more well—what you are reading is a paragraph. And I could go further than that, even, to declare that you are also reading words, letters, and indeed this entire page. Nobody thought you could do it, but here we are now and aren’t you having a good time?

…. read the rest, study, absorb, practice, practice, practice! HOW TO WRITE A SENTENCE  🙂

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger.
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4 Responses to “How to Write a Sentence” from the New Yorker (seriously)

  1. I hope I’m not the only one absolutely convulsed by this. Hoity Toity MFA programs make a huge deal over sentences, for “for sentences are essentially the building blobs of a paragraph.” Yeah. Blobs on blobs, that’s how it’s done! They should be given the death sentence.

    Like

  2. Lonie Fulgham says:

    I have a book with the same name by Stanley Fish that’s a pretty good read, and that was a funny one.

    Liked by 1 person

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