Sunday, January 06, 2008

Eleventh Sunday Salon 15.20 Reading Like a Writer - Chapter 3: Sentences

The chapter on sentences ends with a quote from Hemingway which I like.

"Sometimes when I was starting a new story and could not get it going ...I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, 'Do not worry . You have written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.'"

Francine Prose then goes on to wonder what is 'true' in this context . She thinks that Hemingway may have, in fact. meant beautiful. But to me 'true' is the most meaningful. If something is true it is beautiful to me. It is accurate but, more importantly, it arouses in this reader an instant of recognition that is like Poincaré's luminescent idea. It's a kind of mental gasp of realisation that means, yes, that's it. That's it, exactly.

The rest of the chapter looks at sentence length; how a long sentence can work well, especially when used alongside shorter sentences. She also touches on the importance of rhythm and lyricism and suggests that sentences should be read out loud to check for meaning and cadence.


OpenID Rob in Denver said...

Nice post. I'm willing to bet that Hemingway's view over the rooftops of Paris was enough to inspire beauty or meaning (or whatever your definition of truth is) in anyone.

It must similar to what looking at art or the Rocky Mountains can do for me. Any time you can get a glimpse of something that's far greater than you are yourself, how can you not be moved to express yourself?

Sun Jan 06, 07:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Myrthe said...

I've had this book on my wishlist for quite some time. I love your impressions and quotes, Clare. They're just reinforcing my interest in the book!

Tue Jan 08, 10:58:00 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

Yes, Rob - I think I find that too, although the little things are sometimes equally powerful.

Yes, Myrthe - I highly recommend...

Fri Jan 11, 11:44:00 am  

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