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While inside the weatherbeaten maternity hut lit by a single candle, out of the dark shadow of its mother's womb, the most unusual child ever seen in the village was delivered; and while the child immediately crumbled to nothing but bones and the midwife meticulously assembled it again: the skull with a bottomless pit for the eyes and a nose made of shadows fitted above the spine which curved into the pelvis and into which the legs and feet were plugged, the ribs meticulously fixed to the vertebra and hands plugged into the scapula jutting out of the ribcage; clouds in the vague shape of flowers were covering the sky, glowing pink and filling the breeze with such unnatural fragrance that the villagers all gathered outside of their houses and gazed up at the sky.

Needless to say, I've been reading a lot of stories written in the style of stream-of-consciousness these days. So when I got to actually writing a little story for the college magazine, the best I could do was come up with this spaghetti sentence. Now, I don't want to lose the detail and the setting, and I also don't want to lose this sense of things happening in parallel, but at the same time ... This thing is huge! I myself get confused and lost when I try to read it.

The problem is further amplified because I am not a native speaker and I don't know if the nuance is carried over to the reader.

So, I would like to know if there is any way I can simplify this sentence without losing the style and the image that it paints.

Thank you for any suggestion, comment or help that you give.

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    Midwives are only traditionally present at the conception of their own children.... – Spagirl Feb 28 '17 at 13:55
  • To further explain Spagirls comment - conception (or conceived in your sentence) refers to the moment of fertilization of the egg. The word you are looking for is born :) – user18397 Feb 28 '17 at 23:23
  • I'm sorry to say that questions looking to rephrase or rewrite text are off-topic here. I'm placing this question on hold for now, but if you'd like to edit so it's asking a specific question we'll consider reopening. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Mar 1 '17 at 3:59
  • @spagirl haha such a stupid mistake. thanks for pointing it out. – Nirav Mar 7 '17 at 15:02
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two thoughts:

1) You don't need the while X then Y structure to convey parallel events. Just list them one after another. It's implied that they're simultaneous.

2) Separate your X and Y (the child's birth/crumbling/reassembly and the clouds). The stream of consciousness is a lot to track, the magical realism is a lot to process, and there are a lot of images to hold in your mind from one end of the sentence to the other. This should be at minimum two sentences: the first is from inside to ribcage, and the second is about the clouds.

It's quite lovely and I think you conveyed nuance well. But even the stream of consciousness can overflow its banks if you try to stuff too much into a sentence.

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    "...the stream of consciousness can overflow its banks..." Nice. – Ken Mohnkern Feb 28 '17 at 14:04
  • @KenMohnkern One tries, one tries. :) – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 28 '17 at 15:54
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    Yes you are right. I was trying to stuff way too much into a sentence. I'll try breaking it up. – Nirav Mar 7 '17 at 15:19
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It's a complex sentence, with a complex structure and many adjectives. I, for one, love a well-constructed long sentence, so I won't suggest breaking it up.

Try doing what the midwife does: reconstruct it from its parts. Start with the basics: subject, verb, and object. Keep those clear as you fill in the details. Looks like you have three parts, separated by semicolons. Focus on making each of those clear.

I had trouble understanding the start of the sentence, down to "conceived." (You might want to say "delivered" instead. Conception is something else.) And, honestly, around "the ribs" I felt like skipping ahead to the third part of the sentence. Maybe shorten the middle?

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If the word "conceived" is important later on in the story, try:

"...unusual child ever conceived in the village was born, immediately crumbled into bones in the midwife's hands. Horrified, the midwife tried an ancient spell by assembling the pices of the the infant together ..."

Something supernatural happened to the child, so the midwife, in many cultures are said to be able to do magic, so add that to the story. Now you can use the conception and the midwife's failed attempt as something evil that needs to be dealt with.

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  • Ahh, nice idea. But its a magic realism thing and I don't want people to be actually doing magic. But yeah, I might want to break it the way you did. – Nirav Mar 7 '17 at 15:39
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I would break that sentence down to something like this:

The weatherbeaten maternity hut was lit by a single candle. Out of the dark shadow of its mother's womb, the most unusual child was born, and immediately crumbled to nothing but bones. The midwife meticulously reassembled the bones: the skull, with a bottomless pit for its eyes and a nose made of shadows, she fitted above the spine, which curved into the pelvis, into which the legs and feet were plugged, the ribs meticulously fixed to the vertebrae, and hands plugged into the scapula jutting out of the ribcage. Clouds in the vague shape of flowers were covering the sky, glowing pink and filling the breeze with such unnatural fragrance that the villagers all gathered outside of their houses and gazed up at the sky.

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    Yeah I mean I could do that but this is so stylistically different from the rest of the story that it wont really fit. – Nirav Mar 7 '17 at 15:53
  • @KittyHawk I was just trying to demonstrate what I meant using your example. Of course I cannot write in your voice. I'm sure you could do something similar without breaking your style. – user5645 Mar 7 '17 at 20:05
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There is nothing wrong with a long sentence, but it should still be a sentence. Long sentences generally result from qualification and elaboration of a single point. But that is not what is happening in this sentence. Rather it is telling a sequence of events as the midwife reassembles the child. This is a paragraph knit together into a sentence with semicolons. But there is no good reason to run all these events together into a single sentence. Essentially, you should have periods where you have semicolons.

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  • I would if the while was not there, but it is there and it's conveying the sense of parallelism that I can't replicate it any other way. – Nirav Mar 7 '17 at 15:44

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