Sentence Constructs. The Emphatic, the Magnificent.
This is a post I have wanted to write out for some days, now. It is mostly a tribute to Thomas S. Kane, who is no longer alive. From what I understand, he wrote more than just one or two books, was a professor of English for over two decades. He is a very inspirational author – in my mind – because he shows us many things that we can do with our written grammar that are simple, fun, summarized, accurate. Not claiming to be all-knowing, I have been very impressed with his choice of quotes and explanations of certain concepts in writing – especially with such ideas as sentence construction. When do we use an emphatic sentence? When it is appropriate to draw attention with one, among other normal constructs?
The book I have been reading that I get a percentage of my writing inspiration from can be found here. It is encouraging and makes prose manufacture seem easier and more possible. Better. Anyone who reads/considers this text will at least find added confidence in their pursuit of writing; the book is hard to put down, much more fun and thought provocative than 98% of the grammar books I have encountered. It is my favorite, so far.
In this hopefully not-too-long post, I intend to present a few emphatic sentences. What they say may not be too important, but the kind of sentence made and how its meter or punctuation is chosen will may be. Some of the most impressive sentence constructions I have seen while reading Kane’s book so far are explained below. In order to refrain from this idea taking too long, I decided to include about five favorite forms of sentence construction.
The triadic sentence.
A triadic sentence is a kind of a freight-train style sentence; it is a popular choice among authors due to the idea that it is limited and confined. A common freight-train sentence can include any number of clauses/phrases; a triadic sentence’s secondary part is a 3-phrase combination. In my first example of a sentence construction for this post, I will describe hot-air balloons with a triadic sentence.
The balloons floated freely through the air, their passengers at awe with the farmland below; their rate of travel masked by their effortless existence in the lower atmosphere; their distinctions made by their varied brilliant hues of primary and secondary colors.
The convoluted sentence.
I am impressed with the construction of certain forms of sentences. This particular form of construction is nearly the most difficult and impressive that I have seen. I am sure constructs of this nature occur naturally – when manufactured on purpose, however, they endure the notion of additional skill or effort or even the chance of luck. It is a periodic structure that includes subordinate elements which split the main clause of the sentence. My example is below.
She drew attention, be her frail white sun suit in semblance to her skin, to those who witnessed the stretch of her purr.
Such sentences can be tasking on their readers and should be used sparingly, reminds Kane, as these next sentences are also rather emphatic. They draw emphasis, lose their mite when overused.
What fragment? This one. And another? Oh, sure. Not quite the last.
Polysyndeton and asyndeton sentence constructs.
These formidable words were inspiring to me. They were ideas that I had not heard or or read about; I decided to include them in a post, here. These are easier to make than a purposely constructed convoluted sentence, are thought to be dangerous to use in the academic world and should be approved of prior to delivery if at all possible. Else, take no chance with them. Make the better grade, in other words.
To put it simply, a polysyndeton sentence presents to its audience a list, just as the asyndeton. Polysyndeton sentences do not use commas to separate the objects/phrases in the list, asyndeton sentences do. An asyndeton sentence needs no conjunctions – it does not use the words and, or, nor or yet. A conventional sentence uses commas and a conjunction, with or without a comma before it. I will write a sentence three ways, as was done in Kane’s book, with my own sentence.
The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included wizards, magic, lands, elves, horses and fairies.
The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included wizards and magic and lands and elves and horses and fairies.
The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included: wizards, magic, lands, elves, horses, fairies.
As stated in the text I got these ideas from, conventional sentences that present a list can draw attention to the last element written. Both polysyndeton and asyndeton sentences draw attention to the objects in the list equally. The items as a group usually have more attention with the polysyndeton style, and a group of things described with the asyndeton style exist with less emphasis. I liked those structures, personally.
Quite possibly the most impressive examples I have read in prose were mimetic rhythm constructs. They present to their readers poetic meter, proper construction, and secondary meaning. They are only done well by the masters. Mimetic means imitative; a mimetic sentence imitates the perception a sentence displays or its presentation of feeling. Its meter alludes to its emotional display, in other words, as best explained in Kane’s text. Here are a few examples.
x / x x x / x x / x x / x x x / x x / x x / x x
Her long pale drab hung loose from the height of her shoulders down in artichoke green, to the dull, flat floor.
The sentence above tries to use non-exciting adjectives to paint a monotonous picture of a dismal and non-important lady. While imperfect, the x‘s above attempt to mark the unstressed syllables and the /‘s attempt marking the stressed syllables. As it may be of no surprise, the example above was inspired by but not about the historical monarch figure, Plain Jane. The next sentence should be more exciting.
/ x x / x x / x x / x x / x x / x x / x / x / x / / x x x / x x
Shimmering sparkling shining in glisten, her necklace’s crystals by one by one, the elf princess sported no additional
While the above example was a rough and improvisational attempt, it was still somewhat exciting to construct. The very essence of rhythm is presented in meter similar to actual poetry. The line continues with its sharply repetitive sounds and concludes with less enthusiasm. In prose, rhyming, alliteration, and even musical meter must only be used when able to be done without drawing too much attention to a sentence. As an author, one wants to make a single sentence important from time to time, to draw emphasis. When the situation arises, we can resort to one of the many forms of emphatic construction.
So there we have it – some example attempts of impressive prose construction. While I may be able to win no poetry contest without question, I cautiously remind others not to sell themselves short. We are all inspired by various concepts from time to time. I am a thankful man learning. So hats off to you, avid audience; I await your valued commentary.