Tricks of the Writing Trades (3 of 5): Sentence Structure can Deepen the Text

From the concerted efforts of writers on major motion pictures to comics creators, novelists, travel bloggers, copywriters and others in between, writers are using an arsenal of techniques, methods and tricks in the shared pursuit of capturing the emotions of the audience. 

The creativity of it all is fascinating. So here are my thoughts on…

Structuring Sentences to Deepen the Interpretation of the Text

This is common to prose writing as well as writing that utilises intertextuality. The way certain sentences are written may deepen the reader’s interpretation of the text to something intentional or rather beyond intention of the author, as argued by Roland Barthes in his essay Le Morte d’Author. Ya with me?

Certain sentences can be structured in a variety of ways, all of which can be in turn interpreted by the reader in a way particular to him or her, with some alignment by the author. OK!

What’s important here is that the talented Mr. Windsor-Smith captures the mood of this point in the story poignantly.

I wrote that in part 2 of this series. Intertextuality of ‘the talented Mr. Windsor-Smith’ is referencing the title of the film The Talented Mr. Ripley. Though, some readers may not pick up on that 90s reference so they read it in line with the work of the artist I posted prior.

For a prose example, I’ve settled on this line from The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. For context, this opens chapter VI, just after the protagonist confides in her friend about seeing… a ghost.

It took of course more than that particular passage to place us together in presence of what we had now to live with as we could, my dreadful liability to impressions of the order so vividly exemplified, and my companion’s knowledge henceforth – a knowledge half consternation and half compassion – of that liability.

Draw your attention to ‘my dreadful liability to impressions of the order so vividly exemplified’. It wouldn’t mean much to readers nowadays and can come across as difficult English. But back in those days of 1908 England, seeing a ghost and speaking about it would be considered a liability to your character and the system it exists in. Of course, readers today would pick up on this if a sense of those times were present in mind, but the weight of the line, its gravitas, would have delivered something deeper to readers back then.

I. See. You.

Moving on:

  1. I kicked the can, and it hit Richie.
  2. Richie yelled because the can hit him.
  3. There was a yell, Richie I gathered as Thomas was seen running off.

Three differing versions of the same event. Each with slightly differing interpretations. Each interpretation deepening the story in a certain way if the text was read amongst other lines of prose, let’s say.

Look, I think you get it. Just keep it in mind. You don’t have to follow what first comes to mind, just what path leads to the right emotion.

I wonder how serious.

Hey, want more? Check out:


3 thoughts on “Tricks of the Writing Trades (3 of 5): Sentence Structure can Deepen the Text

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s