A guide to the artistry that lifts a sentence from good to great.
We all know the basic structure of a sentence: a subject/verb pair expressing a complete thought and ending with proper punctuation. But that classroom definition doesn’t begin to describe the ways in which these elements can combine to resonate with us as we read, to make us stop and think, laugh or cry.
In 25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way, master teacher Geraldine Woods unpacks powerful examples of what she instead prefers to define as “the smallest element differentiating one writer’s style from another’s, a literary universe in a grain of sand.” And that universe is very large: the hundreds of memorable sentences gathered here come from sources as wide-ranging as Edith Wharton and Yogi Berra, Toni Morrison and Yoda, T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx.
Culled from fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, song lyrics, speeches, and even ads, these exemplary sentences are celebrated for the distinctive features—whether of structure, diction, connection/comparison, sound, or extremes—that underlie their beauty, resonance, and creativity. With dry humor and an infectious enjoyment that makes her own sentences a pleasure to read, Woods shows us the craft that goes into the construction of a memorable sentence. Each chapter finishes with an enticing array of exercises for those who want to test their skill at a particular one of the featured twenty-five techniques, such as onomatopoeia (in the Sound section) or parallelism (in the Structure section).
This is a book that will be treasured by word nerds and language enthusiasts, writers who want to hone their craft, literature lovers, and readers of everything from song lyrics and speeches to novels and poetry.