Steinbeck & Twain – Guest Post by Andrew Joyce…

I’m here today to lay some heavy stuff (I wanted to say “s**t” but Chris wouldn’t let me) on you. Below you’ll find two sentences, two very long sentences, from two of the greatest writers of all time. The first sentence, written by John Steinbeck, is 110 words long. It’s so beautifully written that every time I read it I wanna cry with happiness. The other sentence, 133 words, written by Mark Twain, is in reference to his having difficulty in writing his autobiography.

I reckon my point is, if you can write, you don’t have to follow any rules.

“The concrete highway was edged with a mat of tangled, broken, dry grass, and the grass heads were heavy with oat beards to catch on a dog’s coat, and foxtails to tangle in a horse’s fetlocks, and clover burrs to fasten in sheep’s wool; sleeping life waiting to be spread and dispersed, every seed armed with an appliance of dispersal, twisting darts and parachutes for the wind, little spears and balls of tiny thorns, and all waiting for animals and the wind, for a man’s trouser cuff or the hem of a woman’s skirt, all passive but armed with appliances of activity, still, but each possessed the anlage of movement.”John Steinbeck from the “Grapes of Wrath.”

With the pen in one’s hand, narrative is a difficult art; narrative should flow as flows the brook down through the hills and the leafy woodlands, its course changed by every boulder it comes across and by every grass-clad gravelly spur that projects into its path; its surface broken, but its course not stayed by rocks and gravel on the bottom in the shoal places; a brook that never goes straight for a minute, but goes, and goes briskly, sometimes ungrammatically, and sometimes fetching a horseshoe three-quarters of a mile around, and at the end of the circuit flowing within a yard of the path it traversed an hour before; but always going, and always following at least one law, always loyal to that law, the law of narrative, which has no law.”Mark Twain illuminating his writing beliefs.

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17 thoughts on “Steinbeck & Twain – Guest Post by Andrew Joyce…

  1. Perhaps it is a form of patriotism or just being a huckster (see, I have read these authors- not a British word nor Scots) but I remember thinking of American authors a “rung down” from those European. America, a younger and more dynamic country, I never mean that as a slight but rather that you have not yet garnered the wisdom of the ages. Or so I thought.
    I remember many years ago reading Tom Wolfe and thinking, oh, no, these Americans have a new way of doing all the old things we Europeans know. He was clever, concise but could run away in whirlpools of words and ideas all of which were enchanting. No longer had a story to be a comedy or drama, a morality tale or eulogy. There they all were glued together in one Homogeneous and fetching clever satire.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, Andrew. Jane Austin was another who wrote sentences of over 100 words.
    I guess in those days, people had a longer attention span. Nowadays, with everyone always in a rush, people can’t be bothered to use the brainpower needed for these longer sentences.
    Watch the TV and you will find that any scene held for more than three seconds is long. (I don’t include things like, news, or interviews, though.)
    BTW, I reviewed Danny the Dog on Amazon, my website and Goodreads. (I think I posted to Amazon and Goodreads. I’d better check!)

    Liked by 4 people


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