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I want to construct long sentences, for fiction. I do use subordinate conjunctions and coordinate conjunctions, and I also understand different kind of phrases, and grammatical rules. But I still struggle to string the phrases and clauses together in an effective way. Are there any tips to construct long sentences? And really make it beautiful (By arranging different grammatical elements in different ways). (I don't like semicolons, and i don't want to use it). Give me examples too. I will understand better.

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    This is probably an example of how not to write, but legal writing, particularly old (100+ years old) legal writing is an absolute marvel of long sentence writing. If you are writing for general public, you should never write like that, but reading it can certainly expand one's horizons of what you can do with the language. – Alexander Jul 10 '18 at 16:56
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    Hi, and welcome to Writers. "I want to write long sentences but I don't want to use X tool" is both too broad and limiting yourself. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. "Effective" depends on the content and the context. You might be better off posting a paragraph and asking "How do I edit this paragraph to make the sentences longer and sound better?" – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jul 10 '18 at 17:14
  • What is it about long sentences that appeals to you? (Is it actually voice? Or varied sentence length?) For myself, once I realized I was actually interested in 'voice,' the rest came more naturally. – DPT Jul 10 '18 at 22:29
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The reason long sentences are possible is because languages are recursive; see here for examples of how this builds long sentences by substitution. Take some long sentences you have access to and work out how they could be built up in this way, and you'll soon have the hang of it yourself. If all your sentences are short, occasionally weaving together the ideas in several of them by recursion will get you the length variety you need.

Let's do a worked example, the second sentence of Moby Dick:

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Now let's imagine how you could build that:

I thought I would sail.

I thought I would sail about a little.

I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Some years ago I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having no money, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

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Find an author who uses the kind of sentences you want to use, given the limits you seem to be imposing I can't think of any examples I'm afraid, and read their work, study the structures they use and learn to replicate them. This is who I've learned any "technique" I might lay claim to, because of the influence of the writer I read.

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Some will tell you that's a bad way to write, indeed with some good reasons. But if you really want to write long sentences, you should study Proust's works. His sentences have nearly no end.

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    Or Victor Hugo. I think he holds the record for the longest sentence in French literature, with 823 words. :) – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jul 10 '18 at 19:50
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I have to say that you've opened my eyes by asking this question. I tend to write long sentences already, but I never knew that there were fancy words for how to do that, so thanks for gifting me with knowledge of subordinate conjunctions and coordinate conjunctions.

I personally found the following cheat sheets to be very useful for understanding how long sentences are constructed:

  • Subordinate Conjunctions (providing a transition between ideas in a sentence / reducing the importance of one clause so that a reader understands which of the two ideas is more important)
  • Coordinate Conjunctions (using and, but, for, nor, or, so, and yet to connect words, phrases, and clauses).

They both include clear explanations and some very good examples.

It strikes me that if you already know these things and you are still struggling with writing long sentences, then perhaps you need to look deeper into the reasons why you tend to write short sentences. Is it perhaps that your sentences are reflecting your thought processes? Alternatively, is it possible that you have been taught that short sentences in writing are a good thing and that, on some level, you are reluctant to break free from that early conditioning?

I notice that you use several short sentences in your question (this being the only sample of your writing that I have) and that it would have been possible for you to have joined them into longer sentences. Maybe you can spend a few minutes asking yourself why you chose to chop your question into short segments. I feel that you would benefit from exploring this aspect.

Perhaps this was not quite the answer that you were expecting, but often digging into the root cause of behaviour is more rewarding than trying to apply a new layer of knowledge.

Good luck with your writing.

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Sorry to challenge the premise of the question, but writing long sentences for the sake of writing long sentences is just as bad as using long words for the sake of using long words.

Beautiful prose comes from having a good ear. You can't break it down into concrete rules or a step-by-step method. How to get a good ear? By reading a lot of great writing.

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