Textbook Recommendation for Sentence & Syntax
Textbooks for Sentence & Syntax
Building Great Sentences by Brooks Land
What makes a sentence good? What makes one great?
To put it simply, Building Great Sentences changed my life and my writing style. I’d been writing for years, pounding away on stories and taking everything the internet spat as me though it were absolute truth. I was having anxiety attacks every time I wanted to use an adjective or a sentence grew to over twenty-five words long.
My prose was spartan; there was nothing memorably to it, no images, no magic, no flow. It wasn't me. Great Sentences does something very simple: it gives you a guide to what makes sentence structure work without spitting rules at you. Brooks Landon lays out the backstory to all those infographics of writing tips you see on Tumblr, explains which ones have merit and which ones are irrelevant.
The exercises beat you over the head in the very best way possible and each one builds on the one before it, providing a laser focus on key sentence building skills. Here is an example exercise from the book and my response.
Think of a cliche sentence and then see if you can think of different ways you might try to convey the point of the original sentence. The best way to do this is to figure out what propositions underlie the original sentence and then try to represent those propositions in your version by using different words and different word order. Then consider how the versions you came up with might be read differently—how they might have slightly different meanings.
It was a dark and stormy night.
The night was dark.
The night was stormy.
The night was dark and the weather was stormy.
The dark night was stormy.
It stormed in the darkness of the night.
Storms darkened the already black night sky.
Storms rumbled the darkened night sky.
Night came, stormy and dark.
The darkest of black nights fell, full of wind, rain, and lightning.