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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Criminal Sentence 391: The Rhythm Method

A few sentences from a book I'm reading:

"Charlie had three boys and two girls. The oldest boy was a sailor, the next was a fireman, who rode proudly on one of the new fire engines sent over from London. Young Sam helped his father."

I felt a disconnect when I got to "who rode..." because the sentences lost their rhythm. I wanted to see something like this:

"The oldest boy was a sailor, the next was a fireman, and young Sam helped his father."

The writer could have placed the fire engine detail elsewhere.

So not only do writers have to think about their grammar, punctuation, spelling and syntax, but they have to think about the rhythm of the words.

This writing stuff is hard!


Victoria said...

What I love most about the English language is the music that it makes. The tone and rhythm of words spoken in accent is magical to me. I often find when reading that if I cannot "hear" the word in my mind, what I am reading loses a bit of its allure.

Victoria said...

Ack! I just read my comment and am blushing at the subject\verb disagreement I allowed. :-(

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Yeah for noticing (though a bit late!)!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'd use a third "was" to make it parallel (can they be parallel with three?) to the other two. But then I rewrite the entire sentence to get rid of the "was"-es.
(How does one punctuate that last?)

The Sentence Sleuth said...

I don't know the official way to punctuate "was"-es, but "was"-es does not look right!
I would probably use the awkward "get rid of the various cases of 'was.'"