Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Write a Sentence

In the paid critiques I do for the Writers' Workshop, I'm often faced with writers with a level of narrative prose so rudimentary that I really can't just tell them it needs polish in this respect or that; I pretty much have to tell them the basics of how to write a sentence. Of narrative, that is. Even when the prose is perfectly acceptable as prose in and of itself, there can be so much that's wrong, to be honest, in terms of how it works as narrative, that the easiest thing to do is just pick one sentence in particular and show them how to rewrite it, take them step-by-step through the application of some basic principles. Hell, even when their prose isn't too bad, it's easier to demonstrate than to explain the how abstractly.

So I've thought for a while that maybe I should turn all that work into some sort of Sentence Writing 101 post for the blog, but of course, I can't exactly use a client's text even anonymously. What to do, then? What to do? It's actually kind of hard to deliberately write a sentence that's fucked up in all the ways I need for such a demo. But fear ye not. A flash of inspiration hit me, I had a quick shufty online, and came up with this prime example from Jim Theiss's seminal 1970 novel, The Eye of Argon:

A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers vital organs.

I think we can safely all agree that this is unmitigated shite, yes? OK, then. Let's take a closer look at it and see if we can't perform a little alchemy, transform it... well, if not into gold then at least into a serviceable steel. Because really, the principles involved in writing a decent fucking sentence of narrative... they're not that fucking complex.

1. Decision

There are many things you want to say in a sentence, but you can't say them all. Decide between them. There are many ways a thing might be said. Decide between them. There are many words on the shelf, close enough to hand that you could grab any one of them and just chuck it in there. Don't. Stop. Look at those words. Decide between them. And when you do put the words down on the page, there's still a decision to be made as to whether the sentence says what you want it to.

Good decision is conscious, considered, confident, conclusive*. To be those things, decision must be informed. Decision resolves. Decision is therefore ultimately about clarity -- clarity of purpose creating clarity of import.


You're aiming to say three things here, that (1) a blade is swung by a barbarian as (2) his arm thrusts forward, (3) skewering a soldier's belly.

The word "riveted" has been grabbed off the shelf. Is this what you mean? Check the dictionary. No, it's not. How about "enameled"? No, that's clearly just the first that came to hand too. You figured, what the fuck, it was close enough -- but it's not. And "shod"? A blade is made of steel, not shod with it. Did you stop and think what you're trying to say? Did you mean that the sword comes out of the shield (huh?!) or out from behind it? Did you mean that the blade is sent to the hilt or that it's sent up to the hilt?

With "rivet," you should be deciding that you mean a sudden action as from a riveter's gun -- a shooting forward. With "enameled," you should be deciding that you mean "wrapped in." With "steel shod blade," you should be deciding you just mean "steel blade." You should be deciding that the sentence needs "behind" and "up":

A sweeping blade of flashing steel shot forward from behind the massive barbarian's hide-wrapped shield as his rippling right arm thrust forth, sending a steel blade up to the hilt into the soldier's vital organs.

2. Excision

There are many things you can say in a sentence, but you don't want to say them all. We do not give a fuck about many of the things you could say. We do not give a fuck about most of them. Redundancy is fat, and fat should be flensed. Adjectives and adverbs -- all modifying terms -- are to be met with the ruthless scalpel of a surgeon. Do they actually add information that is not carried in the verb or adjective already? Even if so, is it information we need? Even whole clauses are to be put to the sword if they repeat what has already been said. If clarity is a primary aim, so too is economy. Excise all that is extraneous.

So here, since the motion of the sword is the predicate of a clause, it doesn't have to be a quality of the subject too. "The moving blade moved" is redundancy, the verb rendering the adjective extraneous. We can eliminate "sweeping" then. We don't need to specify that it's his "right" arm either; the reader's imagination will default to that. And if the blade "shot forward" then we don't need to know that the arm holding it "thrust forth." This is one action, not two. The secondary action performed by that arm is to send the sword into the soldier's guts, so we can cut and stitch. Similarly we already know that the object in use is "a steel blade."

So this:

A [sweeping] blade of flashing steel shot [forward] from behind the massive barbarian's hide-wrapped shield as his rippling [right] arm [thrust forth], sending [a steel blade] up to the hilt into the soldier's vital organs.

A blade of flashing steel shot from behind the massive barbarian's hide-wrapped shield as his rippling arm sent it up to the hilt into the soldier's vital organs.

3. Precision

There are many ways a thing might be said. Vaguely is not good enough. Where a sentence of basic prose is purposed to communicate, a sentence of narrative is purposed to conjure. A sentence that only communicates what happened is not narrative; it is deposition. Your job is not just to convey the basic gist of a sequence of events to the reader, but to invoke that sequence of events vividly in their imagination from the cumulative import of every word and phrase. Vividness is cumulative, but so is vagueness, and vagueness is not good enough. Exchange generic terms for precise ones. Look for stopgap phrasings where there's an exact word for the meaning you're delineating clumsily. Look for stopgap combinations that don't work if you really consider the precise meaning. After clarity and economy comes accuracy.

So, here, "shot" is a generic term for sudden movement, including all manner of firing and dashing motions. The word you want is "thrust." Likewise "sent" is a generic term for getting something from A to B, where we could be using something specific to the immersion of a blade in a soldier's guts, like "buried." The term "hide-wrapped" is a stopgap phrasing for a meaning nailed by the term "leathered." Knowing this about the shield, we know what type of shield it is, can replace the generic "shield" with "targe." And "rippling arm" is rather inaccurate. An arm doesn't ripple; it's the muscles of an arm that ripple. So we take the sentence on another step:

A blade of flashing steel thrust from behind the massive barbarian's leathered targe as the rippling muscles of his arm buried it up to the hilt in the soldier's vital organs.

4. Concision

There are many words on the shelf that you could use to say precisely what you mean. But there are some words you can use to say even more than precisely what you mean here. And if the additional import is one you're trying to convey elsewhere, you can pot those two balls with one shot. The word or phrase you use to describe an action can capture qualities of the object performing it, and vice versa. If you can say two things with one word, do so. Even if there's no rebound import, if you can use two words in place of three, do so.** "But isn't this just economy?" I hear you say. Yes, this is economy returned with a vengeance. Where economy is about rigour, this is about vigour.

So, the word "flashing" is here being used to conjure the reflection of light off the blade, but it is also loaded with an import of motion, sudden and swift. So we can kill two birds with one stone, let "flash" be the verb. It lacks the precision of "thrust," but it binds object and action into object-in-action. The phrase "blade of steel" can also now become simply "steel blade."

A steel blade flashed from behind the massive barbarian's leathered targe as the rippling muscles of his arm buried it up to the hilt in the soldier's vital organs.

5. Incision

When you put the words down on the page, does the sentence say what you want it to? The question is, what do you want it to say? The better question is, what do you want it to do? Do you want it to, for example, encapsulate the import of the action, as it happens, how it happens? To cut to the very quick of the event, to conjure it not just as a superficial description of how this did that and such-and-such happened, but to slice it open and drop the reader right in it? Then you need to carve into the nature of reality itself.

How does a sudden attack that puts a sword in your belly play from the inside? If you'd seen the blade properly would it be in your belly? Didn't you see it properly a little too late, when it was up to the hilt? Shift that "blade" and we shift the awareness of it.

Steel flashed from behind the massive barbarian's leathered targe as the rippling muscles of his arm buried his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's vital organs.

Did his arm skewer you with his sword or did he do it, him, the fucking cunt? Did your arm skewer him with your sword or did you do it, you, because you're a fucking god among men? Let muscles of his arm do what they actually did -- ripple -- and let the barbarian take the glory/guilt that's his:

Steel flashed from behind the massive barbarian's leathered targe, as the muscles of his arm rippled and he buried his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's vital organs.

Is his mass mere flabby corpulence, or is it the rippling-muscled brawny bulk of a warrior? Attach "massive" to the muscle rather than the barbarian and we lose the direct specification of his size but gain a more precise, albeit indirect, specification that conjures the larger picture from the telling detail:

Steel flashed from behind the barbarian's leathered targe, the massive muscles of his arm rippling as he buried his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's vital organs.

Apply concision. Apply all previous principles. These aren't stages you move on from, go through one by one. There's no moving on until the sentence is good. So, apply concision. What are "massive muscles" but brawn?

Steel flashed from behind the barbarian's leathered targe, the brawn of his arm rippling as he buried his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's vital organs.

Did you bury your blade in his vital organs, or did you sink it in his guts? How do you think of innards as a barbarian? How do you think of sticking the fucker? Isn't there just a little more of your satisfaction reflected in a sssssank!

Steel flashed from behind the barbarian's leathered targe, the brawn of his arm rippling as he sank his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's guts.

6. Decision

There are many ways to structure the words in a sentence. There are all the commas and conjunctions you could ever want on the shelf, close enough to hand that you could just grab them and chuck them onto the page, as and when it seems you could maybe do with one. Put them down and look at the sentence. Just because it's grammatically correct doesn't mean it's good. Remember, where a sentence of basic prose is purposed to communicate, a sentence of narrative is purposed to conjure. The logic of structuring a sentence of narrative goes beyond grammar. It is a matter of dynamics, of focus turning and twisting this way and that, slick as a swordsman's parry, feint and thrust. The structure of your sentence is its dynamics. The dynamics of your sentence is its drive. The drive of your sentence is the impetus of narrative, drawing the reader in, whirling them through your slingshot syntax, hurtling them onward, sentence to sentence to sentence. There are many ways to structure the words in a sentence. Decide between them.

So, here, the swift flashing of steel requires a swift phrasing. So we switch the full descriptor for a punchier pronoun, let the brute hulk of the barbarian fall back to his moment of triumph:

Steel flashed from behind his leathered targe, the brawn of his arm rippling as the barbarian sank his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's guts.

If that steel is being whipped out from behind the shield, suddenly being made visible, we can let the structure of the sentence reflect that, present the "from" adverbial first, then spring the flashing steel upon the reader as suddenly as it's sprung on the soldier:

From behind his leathered targe, steel flashed, the brawn of his arm rippling as the barbarian sank his blade in the soldier's gut up to the hilt.

When does the brawn of his arm ripple? Simultaneous with the sinking of the blade, but after the flash of steel? Or vice versa? Is it all happening at once -- steel flashing as brawn ripples as the blade sinks into guts? Or is what we're going for here the sequence in which they register, the shift of those moments... quick, quick, and suddenly all too final.

From behind his leathered targe, steel flashed, the brawn of his arm rippled, and the barbarian sank his blade in the soldier's guts up to the hilt.

If we're applying the same logic of perception to the rippling of brawn as to the flashing of steel though, let's apply the same syntax. We're not losing the precision of an arm, if you think about what brawn is actually involved here. We're gaining the precision of an arm, a shoulder, a whole body putting its bulk behind that blow:

From behind his leathered targe, steel flashed, brawn rippled, and the barbarian sank his blade in the soldier's guts up to the hilt.

But in that final action, is it awkward that the "up to the hilt" is dislocated from "sank his blade"? Would a reversal of phrasing, "sank his blade up to the hilt in the soldier's guts," be better? Or maybe that dislocation is exactly what we want -- two stages for the blade's motion, "in" and "up to the hilt." Let's apply incision here, and carve ourselves a new clause entirely, bring back a verb from the cutting room floor to give the barbarian a syntax that springs out steel and brawn on the soldier too fast for him to deal with, skewers the poor fucker in the belly, and then drives his death home to him with relish:

From behind his leathered targe, steel flashed, brawn rippled, and the barbarian sank his blade in the soldier's guts, thrust it up to the hilt.

That's how you write a sentence. It's not a great sentence, just passable, but then really, if you asked me to get to a good sentence from that line, I'd suck my teeth, shake my head and say, "You don't want to be starting from here, mate." But it's a functional sentence of narrative, wrangled out of shite by the application of basic principles to the words and their structurings -- those principles of decision, excision, precision, concision, incision... which are all, you'll note, derived from the Latin word for cut. Words are, as I've said before, the only substance. Style is not a patina, a decorative finish; it is a process, the process described above, performed with the scalpel of one's savvy upon that substance.

Which is why, of course, the end result is 25 words versus the 34 of the original.

Because style is not a fucking patina.


* Excellent decision is instinctive, intuitive, instant, a skill learned to automation, but to master the skill to excellence you need to go through competence. If you think you have mastery as an innate facility, I am not innarested in your condition.

** Unless there's a damn good reason not to, like not demoting an object to mere modifier, or simply because it would foul the rhythm. Note that I haven't changed "rippling muscles of his arm" to "rippling arm muscles." The rhythm of the former is smooth, a slicker combo of syncopated punches finishing on an uppercut -- DUMdum DUHruhruhruh DUM -- while that of the latter is awkward -- DUDdum DUM DUHruh -- not helped by the shared "m" at the end of "arm" and start of "muscles."



Blogger Timothy Jarvis said...

A veritable philosopher's stone - and a great illustration of why those people who claim there are no basic craft elements in prose writing are flat-out wrong. Though I wonder whether Theiss was actually being even more optimistic than you suspect here, and hoping to convey Grignr was simultaneously fending off an assault, and killing his adversary - that 'riveted' a malapropism for 'ricocheted'?

2:44 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Ooooh! Actually you may well be right about "riveted"; it would make sense. Ah, well. An object lesson in how lack of clarity can completely fuck up the narrative, so it's not even ineffectively conjuring what you want it to. It's ineffectively conjuring something else entirely.

But yeah, as far as I'm concerned even basic "functional" or "transparent" prose is precision engineering... if it wants to work as narrative prose at all, at least. With a principle like incision, the technicalities of how a sentence is or isn't working are a bit harder to explicate than the pretty much self-evident effects of redundancy, but they're hardly ineffable mysteries.

4:59 pm  
Blogger Timothy Jarvis said...

Completely agree.

That said, 'The Eye of Argon' is hilarious, and I'm glad that someone wrote something that incompetent. I love David Langford on it: '[Theiss] has an eerie gift for choosing the wrong word and then misapplying it.'

Apparently Delany once claimed to have written it as a joke?

But good writers do fall prey to that sort of thing all the time - as Thog's masterclass demonstrates -

Steve Aylett does uncannily profound and hysterical things with terrible prose in his Lint stuff - have you read it?

6:00 pm  
Anonymous Paul F Cockburn said...

Must admit I didn't think you could make such a crap sentence any better!

Even from a non-fiction point of view, I think using the right word, rather than just something reasonably close, is a fundamental of good writing. Le mot juste, as they say.

And I'm a firm believer in using one word where others might use three.

6:43 pm  
Blogger Jessie said...

This is an excellent articulation of an incredibly difficult process. If it's all right with you, I'll be bookmarking this to use in a summer camp I'm teaching on fiction writing for high schoolers.

7:36 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

No problem at all, Jessie. If anyone thinks they'd find it useful as that sort of teaching tool, in fact, feel free to print, replicate and distribute it to your heart's content (assuming attribution and non-commercial use, natch.)

Tim: For shame, I still haven't got round to Lint, yet.

Paul: Of course, with print journalism three words in place of one is a luxury! :)

8:02 pm  
Blogger S Johnson said...

"decision, excision, precision, concision, incision..."

This is a nice lesson in the objective aspect of literary criticism. The objectivity is founded on examining the functionality of the prose in attaining its aim, however, so it might be emphasized that these are the objective features of narrative prose aimed at describing an event in the story.

Also, such pithy little lessons are more meaningful when accompanied by their opposites. We might add: Other types of prose might need to aim for suggestion, inclusion, impression, connection and progression.

Suggestion, when it is not the author's aim to impose a particular emotional reaction, but to free the imagination. One can skip using the sexiest verbs, underwrite the impact, because the reader is capable of feeling on his or her own. The passive voice does not mean the reader cannot feel.

Inclusion, because it is not necessary to whittle away every that does not support the predetermined emotional weight. The reader can select what is most important to him or her. Using adverbs can make this choice more specific, thus more meaningful.

Impression, because often reality as perceived is fluid, indefinite, dynamic, ambiguous, even self-contradictory. The succession of imprecise impressions, rather than vivid tableaux, can more faithfully embody a reader's thinking process and serve as a communion of minds between author and reader.

Connection, particularly to mundane reality, because that is more vivid to readers' memories than any imagined experience. Seemingly extraneous detail can serve this function.

Progression, because context is everything. The sentence may be as meaningless as an utterance in a conversation but there is many an um or huh that moves a conversation forward.

We needly hard waste time considering whether Thiess' sentence is good writing of another sort than narrative, of course. And all sorts of prose have a basic grammatical functionality that objectively serves to mark off bad prose of any kind.

7:14 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

To be honest, I find "suggestion" et al. too woolly to be of much practical use, muddying the distinction between process and product, I'd say. For sure, the example used is a particularly external and dynamic type of event -- combat -- so there's a particular impact to be produced. And more internal and static actions of observation and reflection -- a perception, a notion, a memory -- may be fuzzier round the edges, so to speak. But an event of impressionistic experience is still an event to be conjured vividly, and a more vague conjuring of the vivid is not a more vivid conjuring of the vague.

Incision would be, I'd say, the actual pragmatic technique for rendering a "succession of imprecise impressions", for cutting through a superficial gloss that says reductively, "this happens, that happens," for attempting to conjure the often "fluid, indefinite, dynamic, ambiguous, even self-contradictory" nature of experience -- e.g. the sensations of "steel flashed, brawn rippled," which are here blurred from object to substance for that exact purpose. It's incision that would push us to conjure the haze of heat rendering objects in the distance indistinct things. It's incision that would drive us to a keener conjuring of thoughts, emotions and memories as fuzzy, because it would be less incisive to conjure them clean-lined.

You still want to be applying a razor-sharp savvy, selecting the words that will nail that shimmer or smudge, turmoil or tremulousness. This is what I mean by the vivid conjuring of the vague. A vagueness in process won't help you nail the qualities of indeterminacy you want in the product. An Impressionist painting is more incisive in rendering (an experience of) a moment, not less so; what makes it Impressionist is precisely the way the painter applied that principle, took it further than others had before.

With "suggestion" I'd simply point us back at economy meanwhile. One need not specify the emotional impact on the soldier of the sword in his guts, because the reader is as capable of constructing that for themselves as they are of visualising that it's a right arm in action. The last move in rewriting the sentence is made precisely to suggest without explication. I prefer to put the old "show, don't tell" in terms of conjuring and communication partly because it can be a matter of conjuring in a reader's mind without telling or showing. One doesn't need to either tell or show that the soldier in the example is horrified, terrified, blah blah blah. Understatement, restraint, subtlety -- it's all about not doing what one does not really need to. Hence, economy.

3:20 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

And if a more impressionistic and suggestive narrative isn't a matter of less rigorous prose, I have to say that "inclusion" as a principle sounds rather too much like a willful disregard of rigour.

To be clear, that all modifiers add specificity and therefore meaning is assumed; the only time they don't is if that import is already specified in the noun or verb itself. A degree of overload may even be required to really conjure a narrator or viewpoint character's sense of, say, a "vast, hulking, lumbering brute of a barbarian." But that's simply to say that what may look like excess if one were simply beancounting modifiers is not really excess at all; it's overload conjuring overwhelm. Sometimes incision trumps excision like that.

But what you seem to be proposing here sounds distinct and dubious -- a practical principle of, what, chucking everything you can think of at the reader and seeing what sticks? Certainly, one could throw in a fistful of modifiers for every noun and verb, and leave the reader to "select what is most important to him or her." But this is to rely on the reader only superficially engaging with your narrative, skim-reading to glean the gist, registering only whatever odd bit of colour catches attention, blithely skipping what they deem unimportant. If this abrogation of care is what you mean... no, I really don't advise slathering on the purple and shrugging that the reader will cull it as they go. Don't expect the reader to appreciate being left with the task of editing your blather down to what they actually give a fuck about.

Progression sounds similarly dodgy, I have to say. Isn't "Context is everything" just a vague caveat that sometimes an apparently pointless sentence needs to be there because of, um, the stuff around it? With a rough analogy of conversational flimflam for justification. Again, I don't see much practical use in this handwaving.

Hesitations, prevarications and outright waffle are features of conversation, for sure, and may be highly meaningful vocal gestures. They might signify anything from "hang on, I'm thinking this through while I talk, and I'm not finished yet" to "I'm lying through my back teeth" or more. That's why such utterances may be an integral part of dialogue as action, how they might well be absolutely required to conjure the full dynamics of an exchange. But this only returns us to excision, precision and incision, where it's likely more economic, accurate and insightful to have an "um" than a "Wait, let me think this through," or to say that a character "looked shifty as he spoke."

As features of natural speech which are often revealing in this way, these are also therefore the sort of thing one might use to conjure voice and subtext in the narrative itself, whether it's written from a first person or third person PoV. But again we're just talking incision -- cutting deeper to reveal character not just in what is said but in how it's said. Otherwise... I'm not seeing a compelling logic to the analogy. Treading water, playing for time, throwing in filler while you get your thoughts together -- this is not something you want to be emulating in your prose.

3:43 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Finally, I'm also not sure how "connection" fits with the general thrust of an impressionist, suggestive, non-selective approach in which irrelevance is excusable. This is an aspect of precision, I'd say. Part of the point of using "targe" instead of "shield" is that the generic term is little more than... a signpost to a broad notion, a signal to the reader to grab a stock image out of their imagination. The more generic is always already more abstract, more divorced from the real. The specificity of the term "targe" could be considered extraneous, an unnecessary pedantry, but it brings our imagination down a level of taxonomy toward the concrete level of actual historic instances of shields, which are targes (or whatever,) the same way cars are convertibles (or whatever.)

Over all then, I'm not convinced by the idea of opposite principles to be applied in describing other types of narrative event. It's more, I'd say, a matter of applying the same basic principles to decidedly different ends.

3:53 am  
Anonymous Chris Lawton said...

I think I'm going to read this before I do any editing in future. Looking forward to your future posts on writing. You should consider writing a book on writing, style and language, you have a really good way of explaining things.

9:24 pm  
Blogger Lee said...

Good job of demonstrating the editing process, though a sentence never exists in isolation, and I'd prefer to look at the whole paragraph - or least the neighbouring sentences - before deciding on structure. Parallel phrasing, for example, can work well or badly, depending upon intent.

And I think 'leathered' is awkward. 'Leather targe', even if slightly more imprecise, reads better.

8:58 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Limits of scope. Once you start looking at neighbouring sentences, you have to start thinking what belongs in this sentence, what belongs in that, and it becomes "How to Write a Paragraph." For the sake of a Writing 101 course, I figure it's better to give readers a sense of the sort of structural dynamics you'd expect in a single move before saddling them with the reality that it's always going to be a matter of intricate combos.

Bear in mind, as far as I'm concerned, the structure is by no means decided here with finality. Since the principles aren't stages, scale up, look at context, and I'd expect a writer to be re-applying.

For me, "leather targe" would be just... not factually right. I agree that "leathered targe" is phonically a bit clunky though. I'd say "leatherbound" might be a better option, really, but I'm not wholly satisfied with that either. And "hidebound" has unfortunately evolved a whole other meaning. In the end, it's a bit of a toss-up.

In actual practice, I'd likely move that information upfront to where I established the barbarian in the first place, take the time to establish what a targe is -- solid wood, bound in thick leather, studded with a central spike -- so I didn't even need that detail in the action sentence. But the constraint here is not to lose anything that's in this particular sentence.

2:36 pm  
Blogger Lee said...

I understand your point about focus in order to rework a single sentence, and it's certainly a useful exercise, but perhaps I didn't make my point clear. I was referring less to content than to stuff like rhythm, beginning with a prepositional phrase, etc. - though of course there's no real way to separate content and structure except in the most basic sense. A sentence is part of a nexus of patterns and doesn't exist in isolation, no more than a word or phrase does. Still, you teach and I don't, so perhaps your way is best for beginners.

I'm just a beginner.

I didn't realise that a targe was made of leather-covered wood. Hah! But it's a good example of how difficult language is, and how most choices end up as a compromise of one sort or another. Just try translating...

Maybe I've not read widely enough in F/SF, but I'm thrilled to find how closely/precisely you read - and I assume, write. There aren't many who do, I fear, most stopping short at competence (not to be despised by any means!), though there are notable exceptions. I'll be having a go at Vellum soon.

5:32 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Ah, right. Yeah, I'm just glossing over rhythm in a footnote, to be honest. With the tendency of bad prose writers to be bad in part because they're dealing with the words as vessels of meaning rather than substance, treating them as mere means to an end of communicating content, that often leads to a tin ear. They're not hearing the words as words, so they can't possibly tell what's godawful clunky. Hence schlockbluster prose. That's a big enough thing, I sort of think it's a post in its own right.

Anyways, as for Vellum -- hope you enjoy it. :)

7:25 pm  
Anonymous LoveStrikesAgain Blog said...

Do you mostly serve as an author exclusively for your domain or you do this for any other Internet or offline portals?

1:17 pm  

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