Good morning all. Brittany is back with Part 2 of her miniseries on Syntax; click here for Part 1. Also, on her blog today she is discussing varying sentence types. Head over and check it out.
Syntax Part 2
So last time we saw that the structure of the sentence can dramatically change the meaning and implications of a story. This time we will see how syntax can be used to physically illustrate a point in the story that you want to convey. Form imitating Meaning…
Here is an example from The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner:
I slowed still more, my shadow pacing me, dragging its head through the weeds that hid the fence.
Faulkner uses the commas and the diction to slow the sentence down and emphasize the meaning. The character moves slowly and so does the sentence. How different would it be if Faulkner wrote “I slowed more still. My shadow was pacing me. It dragged its head through the weeds that hid the fence.” The syntax of this group of sentences does the exact opposite. It suggests anxiety and gives off a nervous feeling. Faulkner’s purpose was not to make the reader feel nervous, but rather sluggish, weighed down, and cautious. Your eyes should be dragging across the sentence in the same way that the shadow drags through the weeds.
Have you been able to include any sentences in your current WIP where form imitates meaning?