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even though the words are strongly emphatic; for example, “The soldier, transfixed with the spear, 'writhed. We want a longer ending, ‘fell writhing to the ground,' or, 'writhed in the agonies of death.'”—Abbott.
RULE III.—The strength of a sentence may often be increased by the proper use of connectives.
Connectives are words having no significance of their own, but whose office it is to indicate the relations of words and clauses. "These little words, but, and, which, whose, where, etc., are frequently the most important of any; they are the joints or hinges upon which all sentences turn, and, of course, much, both of the gracefulness and strength of sentences, must depend upon such particles.”—Blair.
The shortest conjunctions should be used. Most conjunctions are words of one syllable, but many contain several syllables; as, nevertheless, notwithstanding, furthermore, forasmuch, etc. The length of these makes them too prominent; monosyllabic connectives should, if possible, be substituted for them. The use of these drawling conjunctions is characteristic of our older writers; they are rare in good modern authors.
The omission of particles is generally forceful by admitting the concentration of energy on the significant parts, and by the exciting effect of rapid utterance. Thus: “A multitude fills roads, paths, bridges, plains, hills, valleys, woods, choked up by the flight of forty thousand men. Cries, despair; knapsacks and muskets cast into the growing rye; passages forced at the point of the sword; no more comrades, no more officers, no more generals, inexpressible dismay.”— Victor Hugo.
On the other hand, if it is desired that the mind should dwell upon the various circumstances, connectives may be
used with great frequency. In the following examples observe how the several items are, by the use of connectives, separated and distinguished, and the attention detained:
Thus with the year
I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. --St. Paul.
The animation of the one method, and the gravity of the other, are seen together here:
So eagerly the fiend
Splitting particles.—“I have often spoken to you upon matters kindred to, but perhaps not distinctly connected with, my subject for Easter." Here the preposition is widely separated from its object: this is called “splitting particles.' It is a violent separation of things that ought to be closely united; consequently it produces an unsatisfied and displeased feeling in the mind. The current of thought is brought to a stand-still, and we are obliged to rest for a time on a little word which carries no meaning with it until it is connected with its proper object. A better arrangement of the sentence is: “I have spoken to you upon matters kindred to my subject for Easter, or at any rate not distinctly connected with it.” In this construction each preposition stands in close proximity to its object.
RULE IV.-A sentence is enfecbled by the improper repetition of a word, or by the recurrence of unpleasing similarity of sound. Thus:
“What right have I to write on Prudence"; “During the night preceding the waters were slowly receding"; “The few who regarded them in their true light were regarded as dreamers.”
This principle does not apply to a repetition made for some sound rhetorical reason; on the contrary, such repetition often adds great strength to a sentence. Thus: “He aspired to the highest-above the people, above the authorities, above the laws, above his country"; "She flew through the brakes and over the huge stones, up-up-up-faster than ever huntsman ran in to the death."
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
From weary chime to chime;
As prisoners work for crime!-Hood.
Often intense energy may be secured by the omission of words easily supplied. Words are sometimes a hindrance to the thought, less expressive even than signs or gestures.
The strongest effects are produced by interjections, which condense entire sentences into syllables. Thus the word "Miscreant!" expresses all that could be conveyed by the sentence, “Thou art a miscreant!” “A Daniel come to judgment!” is a more energetic arrangement than, “Thou art a Daniel come to judgment. “On to Richmond!” is more forcible than, “Let us go on to Richmond.”
RULE V.–Use specific words.
Words which denote individual things, have a definiteness of meaning; hence they are more readily understood, and the impression produced by them is deeper than that produced by generic words — words whose meaning is broader, words which name classes of objects. Thus: “Can good come of evil ?” is less forcible than, “Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?” “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now is more effective than, “If you have sympathy, prepare to show it now." "It seemed that a Bonaparte had planned the battle" produces a more vivid impression than, “It seemed that the battle had been planned by a great military genius.” To say, “He was a Judas in heart” is to describe in energetic terms a base and treacherous nature.
RULE VI. — In cases of contrast, a sentence is stronger and inore effective, if the contrasted members are constructed alike.
“Happiness is found in the arm-chair of dozing age, as well as in the sprightliness which belongs to the dance." Correct thus: “the sprightliness of the dance."
"Prosperity gains friends, but they are tried by adversity." Correct thus: “Prosperity gains friends; adversity tries them.” “Hope, inspiring the heart, and Fear, which destroys faith in one's self, work ever against each other.” Correct thus: “Hope, which inspires the heart, and Fear, which destroys faith," etc. “I stood a long time considering many things connected with this stately old mansion, and to note the perfect harmony between it and its surroundings.” Change to: “I stood a long time considering many things connected with this stately old mansion, and noticing (or observing) the perfect harmony between it and its surroundings.
RULE VII.-It often adds strength to a sentence to use the periodic form.
A periodic sentence is one in which the complete sense is suspended until the close.
A loose sentence is one in which the predicate is followed by phrases or clauses that are not necessary to the completeness of the sense. It takes the whole of a period to express a thought; there may be many places in a loose sentence, at any of which a thought has been expressed, and a full stop could be made.
Both the periodic and the loose sentence have their advantages and their disadvantages. The periodic structure promotes energy, as it preserves the unity of the sentence and concentrates its strength in a single point, the close; but it has an artificial appearance - the whole must be thought out before anything is set down; as the beginning has reference to the end and the end recalls the beginning, all that lies between looks back to the beginning and forwards to the end. It is unfitted for some kinds of composition, and its frequent recurrence is always disagreeable.
A loose sentence is not necessarily deficient in energy; it begins without apparent consciousness of how it is to end—the beginning has in construction no dependence on what follows, though what follows depends for its construction and its sense on what precedes it. By a judicious choice and arrangement of words, the writer may keep the mind of the reader in suspense even in sentences that are not grammatically complete before their close; still, loose sentences are very liable to degenerate into feebleness. The proper management of the loose sentence requires much care and skill.
Hence young and inexperienced writers should generally aim to make their sentences periodic.