Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yes, You Can Use Complicated Sentences. Sometimes.

Regarding some of the recent posts criticizing complex writing, let me clarify. I'm not suggesting that writing should only be done "see Spot run"-style simple sentences. It's always a good idea to mix up your sentence structure.

However, if you find yourself using semicolons regularly, trust me, you can assume your sentence structure is too complex. And you run the risk of making your readers cross-eyed when you convey your thoughts in paragraph-long, multi-line sentences.

Those are the kinds of sentences I rail against. The kind that win annual bad writing awards, like this one:

It is the moment of non-construction, disclosing the absentation of actuality from the concept in part through its invitation to emphasize, in reading, the helplessness — rather than the will to power — of its fall into conceptuality.
--From A Defense of Poetry, by Paul Fry

With friends like this, poetry needs no enemies.

Look, if your argument and logic are solid, why obscure them beneath layers of complicated wording?

Writers who hide behind complex writing usually have something to hide. Like, perhaps, the fact that they're not saying anything of value.