Your Voice in Writing – Part 3 – Sentence Structure

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Your Writing Voice and Sentence Structure

Along with our diction and pacing in our writing, our sentence structure is part of our Voice in writing.

The Bare Bones of Sentence Structure

We have simple sentences. (<— This is one!)

We also have complex sentences. (Independent clause + dependent clause = part of the sentence can stand by itself + part cannot)

We have compound sentences. (2 Independent clauses combined with a comma and a *coordinating conjunction*)

*Coordinating Conjunctions: and, or, but, for, so, nor, yet — yes, they rhyme. How do you think I manage to remember them after all these years?!*

And, we have compound complex sentences. (2 more more independent clauses combined with dependent clauses)

A Mixed Lot

We should be able to use the sentence structure that best fits our stories. Our sentence structure choices and our preferences for paticular sentence structure are part of our writing Voice.

Look at Hemingway’s sentence structure:

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him.

— From The Old Man and the Sea

Now, look at Faulkner’s:

Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, ‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.’ Thinking although I have not been quite a month on the road I am already in Mississippi, further from home than I have ever been before. I am now further from Doane’s Mill than I have been since I was twelve years old.

From Light in August

How does sentence structure impact your writing/reading?

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About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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4 Responses to Your Voice in Writing – Part 3 – Sentence Structure

  1. Roger says:

    Of course we should mix sentence structure and syntax but ultimately, as my old teacher said: all rules may be broken provided the writer is making a point. If the reader sees that you are incompetent, they’ll desert you in droves.
    Of course that doesn’t make up for my crappy grammar but I’m trying.

  2. Pingback: Your Voice in Writing – Part 4 – Tone | melindamcguirewrites

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