Ten Explanatory Fragments on the Sentence


Why am I launching a blog on sentence-making and what comes from it? Here are ten fragmentary, overlapping reasons:

1. Because of the complicated beauty I find in sentences (well, some of them!) — in their texture and balance and momentum, in their weaving of sound and sense, in their play with time and rhythm, in the power of their design to shape vivid imagery and precise ideas. 

2. Because what happens between a writer and a reader begins and ends with — and in — the sentences between them.

3. Because I find that to work as a writing teacher and coach and as an editor — and, of course, as a writer — is to invest, first, in being as good a reader of sentences as possible. This is often overlooked.

4. Because my students want to write stories and essays before they've considered what must go into writing the sentences to get there. 

5. Because the challenge to pinpoint how black marks on the page can have the effects they do in the receptive mind is endlessly compelling to me—and a lot of fun. 

6. Because the sentence teaches control and purpose: it is where limitless possibilities in the imagination narrow to specific effect and predicament. 

7. Because, unlike with the master painter or dancer or pianist or carpenter or plumber, you cannot learn much at all from watching the master writer at work; you must observe the sentences he or she has made. The page is the master. If you can observe what's there well enough, you can be an apprentice.  

8. Because I agree with Verlyn Klinkenborg when he writes: “If you understand how to build silence and patience and clarity into your prose, how to construct sentences that are limber and rhythmic and precise and filled with perception, you can write about anything, even yourself.”

9. Because effective sentence-making is so pleasurably and variously difficult. 

10. Because writing, editing, teaching, and reading are all practices, and I like to practice.

Thanks for your reading. I hope you continue.