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January 11, 2013


Replies: 11

One Word Sentences

Amana07 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Got several stories spread out across my laptop here. I'm writing these ideas out and continuing with some of them while others are left to "percolate," allowing me to gather a better understanding of how to write them. Now, getting to the reason of this thread, and as the title suggests, I need some info about 1 word sentences.

This area seems to be rather clouded for me when it comes to finding material on it. Some people say they are acceptable. However, I see others disagreeing with a one word sentence. I really want to expand my use of the colon and dash mark (think it's an EM/EN dash, forget which atm), so I can elicit better reactions from the reader.


Cold, dark, anger, hatred, heartlessness no, those words fail me. A permanent price was paid for my failure...

I would like to make the single words Cold, Dark, anger, etc... into one word sentences, but it just doesn't sound right. The dash mark is added in for an abrupt change. Personally, I would like to have the "no" be the end of that sentence. The more I look at it however, the more it doesn't seem to be a "proper" sentence/appropriate.

Only one word sentences that seem appropriate are only with words like Yes and No when using them in a dialogue format.

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Devious Comments

Mr-Timeshadow Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013
Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes has a one-sentence chapter. So, sure: surprise us. A writer who communicates with the reader, rather than just showing off for the sake of it, is better than a writer who plays it safe every time. If you surprise us, though, to good effect, we won't mind. The comic book The Question, during its run back in...hmm...I think it was the late 80's or early 90's, had a scene where the lead has a morning after scene with his lady love. The narrator waxes on about how the lead had rad descriptions of romance and sex employing purple prose, melodrama, and flowery words. But none of them had ever truly captured the truth of physical love. Cut to the next panel of Vic Sage in bed, mumbling "It's stickier...."
I laughed for ages about that. And you know, it worked, too. Be brave and do what you want. As long as communicating your story to us remains at the forefront of your thoughts, it'll work.
neomerlin Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Student Writer
Scyoni Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Art is art, and literature is written art - there are rules, and there are always situations where breaking them makes the work more effective.

Just make sure there's a reason why you're breaking a rule. Crying 'style' to disguise a mistake is not a good idea, but writing with style is.
Rovanna Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013   Digital Artist



:giggle: One word sentences are fine if it fits the narration style. I use fragments a fair bit. I like ~starblazer's rewrite of the sentence.

But yeah. Too many fragments make you sound like you're narrating a detective movie.

Tuesday. Rain. Still no leads. Difficult case.
tiganusi Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Professional
Oh. Balls. Do.
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Student General Artist
To be honest, it depends on how you want to come across to your reader's and how you want the voice of the story to sound like. I'm going to agree with =star-blazer and say that in this case, fragmented one word sentences could do something good for you. Either sentence works, though.

I personally rarely use fragments in my pieces, but I do believe that fragments can be useful when writing fiction. What you said about colons, semi-colons, and dashes is something I have to comment on as well. I rarely, if ever, use colons. But I have to admit that the semi-colon especially (and the dash too) is one of my favorite tools. I like using a semi-colon because it separates a run-on sentence without multitudes of commas or separating the sentences. It's the perfect in-between that I don't hesitate to use when writing.
DorianHarper Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Professional Writer
I've seen one word sentences used before (fragments [?]) and think that they can be effective if used properly. The em dash is helpful for the abrupt pause before the important information (like you have it), but if you wanted to use the fragments, I think they could be effective. However, too many of them can also become ineffective. If you stick with using them, my personal suggestion would be to only use three (the rule of threes can be useful here in making these fragments effective for the reader). Ex: Cold. Dark. Anger. No, those words fail me.

That's just my opinion, though!
Amana07 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, i'm trying to figure this out and it's definitely giving me a headache. I make sure to keep colon, semi-colon, and dash usage to a minimum, so I don't look like some kind of drama writer. Probably use the colon two or three times throughout the story with semi-colon usage being very minor.
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist

I don't know exactly what you mean by 'drama writer' but I'd like to point out that regardless of punctuation, a string of emotive words is pretty dramatic.

Anyway, I think it can be done like once or twice in a book. I vaguely remember seeing it most when the narrator is disoriented.

Amana07 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sorry, i'll try to be a bit more clearer when concerning my statement about "drama writing."

My main concern would be overuse of words with a dark connotation and single word sentences, or things like simi-colons and colons, to elicit a reaction from the reader. To me, it would be like serving the same great, one dish at a restaurant. Sure, you'll eat it, but you get bored with the food pretty damn quickly after eating the same dish so many times in a row. I hope to learn how to use one word sentences appropriately, and when needed, much like that extra garnish on a plate to make it stand out. This will help to ensure the reader doesn't grow bored. At least, I hope they won't grow bored. Again, i'm still learning how to write since one year of writing does not turn an amateur into a professional. :D
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is true for pretty much anything - you always need a balance, regardless of whether or not you're writing within a specific genre. :nod: Even horror has its moments where people aren't being torn apart or chased.
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