I try to break down long sentences into short. I do have long sentences but only for variety; short sentences, words and paragraphs are what I try to write. Think Orwell, or better yet, newspaper columnists like Delaplane (internal link). I am constantly amazed, however, at how writers like Conrad and Kipling and Melville carry off long sentences. They achieve variety at times with length, not necessarily by mechanically writing shorter sentences.
This single paragraph is from Kipling’s Just So Stories. The poem is How The Leopard Got His Spots. The run on sentences encourage faster reading but greater profit is attained with a slower pace.
How The Leopard Got His Spots (excerpt)
IN the days when everybody started fair, Best Beloved, the Leopard lived in a place called the High Veldt. ‘Member it wasn’t the Low Veldt, or the Bush Veldt, or the Sour Veldt, but the ‘sclusively bare, hot, shiny High Veldt, where there was sand and sandy-coloured rock and ‘sclusively tufts of sandy-yellowish grass. The Giraffe and the Zebra and the Eland and the Koodoo and the Hartebeest lived there; and they were ‘sclusively sandy-yellow-brownish all over; but the Leopard, he was the ‘sclusivest sandiest-yellowish-brownest of them all—a greyish-yellowish catty-shaped kind of beast, and he matched the ‘sclusively yellowish-greyish-brownish colour of the High Veldt to one hair. This was very bad for the Giraffe and the Zebra and the rest of them; for he would lie down by a ‘sclusively yellowish-greyish-brownish stone or clump of grass, and when the Giraffe or the Zebra or the Eland or the Koodoo or the Bush-Buck or the Bonte-Buck came by he would surprise them out of their jumpsome lives. He would indeed! And, also, there was an Ethiopian with bows and arrows (a ‘sclusively greyish-brownish-yellowish man he was then), who lived on the High Veldt with the Leopard; and the two used to hunt together—the Ethiopian with his bows and arrows, and the Leopard ‘sclusively with his teeth and claws—till the Giraffe and the Eland and the Koodoo and the Quagga and all the rest of them didn’t know which way to jump, Best Beloved. They didn’t indeed!
More Kipling at this site:
The Cat that Walked by Itself
The Elephant’s Child
Mandalay – Fine reading by Fred Proud
Kipling and Long Sentences
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