An Exercise in Sentence Length — Going Long Again

February 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm 2 comments

O.K. — with thanks to Ursula LeGuin — that was so much fun I did it again!
Feel free to play along and post your own ‘Going Long’ sentence in the comments.

Original scene from my story:
Auntie Agnes poured some more whiskey for Henry, left him in the dining room, and then went to find Uncle Jim. It was Auntie Agnes who sat down at Henry’s table just a little while later. It was Auntie Agnes who kept refilling Henry’s shot glass for the next couple of hours. It was Uncle Jim who crept around to the front window of the inn, rested his knife on the sill, aimed carefully and threw it hard, making a hole in Henry Dawson’s back, killing him instantly.

My ‘Going Long’ Sentence:
Auntie Agnes poured some more whiskey for Henry, nice and slow while she stared into his eyes tryin’ to see right inside of his head, tryin’ to figure out exactly where all of this might be leadin’ and once she got Henry sippin’ his whiskey and could see his shoulders relax just a little it was Auntie Agnes who got up then and went out to the barn to talk to Uncle Jim with her mouth close to his ear and her hands punchin’ the air like she couldn’t get the words out fast enough; it was Auntie Agnes who came back from the barn alone, set down across from Henry Dawson and took a deep breath while smoothin’ down her skirt, kept refillin’ Henry’s whiskey glass over and over again while takin’ tiny sips from her own, but never lettin’ on, never lettin’ on Henry was doin’ all the drinkin’ and she was only pretendin’ to refill her glass shot for shot while Uncle Jim crept ‘round to the front door and slowly pushed it open – holdin’ his deer knife in his hand – then takin’ aim at Henry Dawson’s back – the whole time Auntie Agnes was laughin’ and flirtin’ and talkin’ with Henry like they was best friends – ‘til there was nothin’ left to say ‘cause Henry Dawson was layin’ on the ground with a pool of blood growin’ bigger underneath him and his crumpled face turned toward me and that one eye, open and starin’, pinnin’ me to that spot on the other side of the door where I’d been watchin’ everything, thinkin’ I was safely hidden in the dark and no one knew – but Henry’s one dead eye found me.


Entry filed under: Steering the Craft_Writing Exercises.

An Exercise in Sentence Length — Going Long Illinois Author and Illustrator Blogs

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lainie Levin  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I love these exercises, Sue! I have a bit of commentary on my own blog, but here’s the sentence I crafted:
    The day begins before it really begins, dreaming (if I am lucky) of things beyond reality, of flying or driving a car that turns into a paddleboat before entering a museum and losing my children inside, or (if life is busy) an endless recount of one particular scene from one particular day: one particular math lesson or one particular problem that I must keep explaining over and over to one particular child before waking up, welcoming my soul back to my body from its either fanciful or regular dreams as the to-do list begins ticking: walk the dogs, shower, pack the lunches, wake the boys (but do it right or they’ll be crabby), pack my bags, turn my shirt right side out before anyone notices, make sure everyone is fed and dressed (underwear included), pretend that everybody brushed their teeth, and hope (because a girl can dream) that I don’t yell at anybody as I usher them into coats, out the door and into the car which, because it is wintertime and the ice is a good excuse, has replaced both my feet and my bike as a mode of transportation, the guilt of which weighs down upon my environmentally aware and physically fit parts of my conscience even though people (giving me advice that’s easier to serve that eat) tell me maybe that’s just one ball I can allow to drop, just as long as it’s not the patches I need to get for the Tiger Cubs, nor the violin rental payment, nor the slips that need signing nor the books that need returning; I let the car take me across town and turn itself into the school parking lot, gauging how on-time I am by which row I get to park in, and if I’m really allowing myself to (I’ll know because I will have noticed the sky that day) I will give myself time, just a bit, right after I turn the ignition off, to enjoy the sudden shock of silence, that momentary hush that comes right after the engine quits and I hear nothing, think nothing, feel much before shouldering the ungraded papers, ready (not really ready, but I know how to fake it) to start working.

  • 2. Sue  |  February 18, 2010 at 5:24 am

    This is such a WOW!!, Lainie.
    I’m so glad you are playing along. Your writing is gorgeous and I’m glad you’re sharing it here!!!!


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