Thursday, February 25, 2016

Brilliant Writers Make Long Sentences Work


I've recently started reading The Complete Tales of Pooh (the original Winnie the Pooh stories) to my three-year-old. I've been pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it is for an adult...so much more than so many kids' books I've trudged through because she loves them.

In our most recent reading, we came across a sentence that was ridiculously long. It was a great reminder that great writers (along with their editors) can break out of the strict writing mold at times in a way that brings variety to sentence structure without losing the reader.
In after-years he liked to think that he had been in Very Great Danger during the Terrible Flood, but the only danger he had really been in was in the last half-hour of his imprisonment, when Owl, who had just flown up, sat on a branch of his tree to comfort him, and told hime a very long story about an aunt who had once laid a seagull's egg by mistake, and the story went on and on, rather like this sentence, until Piglet who was listening out of his window without much hope, went to sleep quietly and naturally, slipping slowly out of the window towards the water until he was only hanging on by his toes, at which moment luckily, a sudden loud squawk from Owl, which was really part of the story, being what his aunt said, woke the Piglet up and just gave him time to jerk himself back into safety and say, "How interesting, and did she?" when—well, you can imagine his joy when at least he saw the good ship, The Brain of Pooh (Captain, C. Robin; 1st Mate, P. Bear) coming over the sea to rescue him.
Yes, that is a single sentence. Pretty cool, huh?

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