The Promise of the Single Sentence

I’m just back from teaching several craft sessions at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference, at Arizona State University, and I am reflecting again on this:

The writers I have taught who have enjoyed the most success have found their stories inside of single, compelling, well-crafted (and -revised) sentences of narrative charge. They have found character and setting and predicament, and have subsequently, and unexpectedly, come upon specific moment and momentum from the sustained empathic imagining that a single sentence has demanded. They have proceeded to unpack a story across sometimes twenty or thirty pages, addressing the narrative questions their initial sentence prompted. In starting story-making with what the crafting of a single sentence demands, we’re not limiting the imagination. We’re both deepening and sharpening it — and at the same time encouraging practice toward the agility and versatility a profitable sentence-maker must have.