Ridiculously long sentence, anyone?

Like most writers, I strive to get better every day. I work on mechanics, voice, pacing, plotting. I read advice from other writers. I speak my dialog to make sure it’s real. I aim for tight, crisp prose.

So why do I have so much fun with really really bad writing? I enjoy creating outrageous character names, stilted conversations, and absurd events. And who doesn’t love appalling metaphors and cringe-inducing imagery?

Best of all are looooong sentences. The longer the better.

Here’s one I just made up:

Now that Anton Krakamolitov had finally, after 20 years of relentless, single-minded, but soul-consuming searching, found the underwater cave of Eiberhorn the Serpent, that dreadful thing of which women dare not speak and men only whisper and about which children shudder in fear while cowering in the darkest recesses of their medieval cabin-like domains – the very beast whose undulating, quivering surface of resplendent, sequin-esque, purple scales is impervious to even the finest forgings of weapons-grade iron into implements of destruction that shame even the mightiest superarrows of yore – he began to have second thoughts about what he was preparing to undertake, which caused him not inconsiderable anguish (given the aforementioned 20 years of his hard, bitter life he burned away to reach this moment), mostly because now, as he gazed down at the near lifeless body of Pedro Morganthish, whom he had brought as a sacrifice for Eiberhorn the Serpent (for who was Anton Krakamolitov but a pious devotee of the beast, since his all-consuming quest was, if one knows about worldly things, very like that of one who commences a ruinous religious pilgrimage?), he began to feel the pangs of a remorse that are often indistinguishable from food poisoning and are so often associated with making a human sacrifice of one who killed another’s grandfather, in Anton’s case being Braddox Hammer, the greatest warrior on all of Odinhood, because, though Anton loved his grandfather, he knew that Pedro – poor, dying Pedro – was only defending his recipe for mint pie, without which the Morganthish family would be worth less than the dirt between the treads on Anton’s boots (had Anton’s boots not rotted away years ago), making Anton, who was still looking down upon the gaunt, suffering Pedro, realize in his heart turned stony from all these wasted years of questing and not brushing his teeth that he could not, in good conscience, throw Pedro to the heinous devilfish called Eiberhorn the Serpent, the beast that Anton believed was hiding in its hell cave fathoms below the surface of the black, mirror-like, seaweed choked water, but that, in fact, was no longer down there at all, as it was just now breaking said water surface, with its ghastly maw gaping wide and lunging too quickly for Anton to do anything other than scream in horror as the massive, drooling demon chomped down, crushing Anton, Pedro, and the half-bullet shaped sailboat in one, singular, pointless-quest-ending bite.

405 words. Let’s see what you’ve got!

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37 responses to “Ridiculously long sentence, anyone?

  • Doug Brown

    You might want to invite Gabriel Garcia Marquez to this hoedown..that dude can throw the world’s longest sentence at you and make you wonder how you forgot to breath!

    • ericjbaker

      Sweet. Thanks for the suggestion. I just read this one out loud and almost lost consciousness. I’d better start working out in case Mr. Marquez stops by.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • jasoncgerringer

    I’m addicted to commas and I always get crap about using them without using proper words after them like, “and”, “but”, and so forth. But the thing is, I use commas to break up a sentence the way I feel it should be, and if people don’t like that, then they can read something that is more appealing to their idea of what’s proper. Plus, I hate it when I’m reading very prominent stuff that’s regarded as great literature and you see similar use of commas and long sentences where the writer has broken them up for the sake of putting in a pause for the reader to pace themselves through the long sentence. Writing can be very subjective when it comes to this I think.

  • Bryan Edmondson

    Falkner uses long sentence lengths on every other page he wrote. I think back then the South put a tax on writers using a “.” I like his works though.

    Also it has been said that Proust wrote 56 pages describing his ecperience of having a desert at some dinner party. That almost seems like a fixation or fetish.

    Periods are trouble. You can’t trust them. Most people don’t know this but when they see a line on a sheet op paper–it is just a period that went for a walk.

    • ericjbaker

      You’re going to bring up Faulkner on MY blog? You’re mentioning the name of that devil. Who stole my wife. My car. My dog. My complete set of Starlog magazine.

      Wait. You were talking about Melvin Faulkner, the guy in apartment 301H, right?

  • Jill Weatherholt

    There’s no way I can top that ~ I’m exhausted from reading it. 🙂

  • nrhatch

    Sometimes I do the same thing, in a slightly different way, of course, just because it’s fun to go on and on and make readers wonder if it’s ever going to stop (they know it will, eventually, at least on the printed page, but faced with a very long-winded sentence some of the more nervous readers tend to flip forward to make sure that a break is coming in the not-too-distant future) as opposed to continuing to turn one corner after another and another in a virtual verbal maze on undulating vocabulary which stretches rules of grammar and punctuation to the near-breaking point, creating a sense of tension and urgency for release similar to that experienced when we have had too much to drink on a Saturday night without first ensuring that there is a loo within shouting distance, for we all know how hard it can be to traverse the miles with a full bladder when our legs are crossed at the knees, and ankles, especially when our eyes begin to go cross-eyed from the strain, bugging out of our head until they begin to resemble the protruding oculary orbs of the common housefly, a pest of uncommon measure even without a full bladder to contend with.

    OK. That’s enough. I give . . . but I do request extra credit for ending with a preposition. 😉

  • Storkhunter

    I’ll start laughing once I find some oxygen!

  • change it up editing

    Thanks for visiting my blog, and I’m so happy to have found yours. Thanks for a good laugh!

  • Paula Tohline Calhoun

    The mysterious PTC – egged on by some woman who uses her spirit instead of a flashlight (cheaper, I guess) will be delivering her enlightening bit of run-on prose sometime in the next day or two, because I just found out about it and I have not been practicing running lately, finding it still too hard just to breathe. So, have no fear. This sentence ain’t it, but buckle your seatbelt – it’s going to be a bumpy read VERY SOON.

  • Paula Tohline Calhoun

    I JUST LEFT A REPLY!!! WHY DOES THIS PAGE KEEP ASKING ME TO LEAVE A REPLY? I BET WHEN I FINISH WRITING THIS ONE, IT WILL ASK FOR ANOTHER – JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE, IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME!

  • Paula Tohline Calhoun

    WHAT DID I F’N TELL YOU???? WILL IT EVER STOP? SAVE ME FROM THIS! I’M TIRED! I WANT TO GO TO BED!!!

  • Paula Tohline Calhoun

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bryanedmondson

    Gad sooks look at this thread length. Sell some advertising spots already. I love it.

  • Paula Tohline Calhoun

    Dear Eric: (Not part of my sentence)

    You and all of your devoted readers will now have the opportunity to read some of the best liquid and eloquent prose ever written because the writer is one whose skills have grown to such an enormous degree that even writers such as St, Paul (who easily holds the biblical record for the longest sentence) will bow at my feet and admire – or course he will not worship because we all know to whom worship should be directed and I will give you a hint in case you don’t know, that person is not my mother, but in my mind sometimes I believe that it could be because since she has been dead for more than eleven years her qualities of sainthood have grown in direct proportion to the length of time she has been dead and buried, which is a story I wrote about in poetic form on a different forum called Goodreads which I have learned seldom is, at least according to those people who critique my poetry and usually have anything but something good to say about their reading of any of the exquisite poetry that I write so ably that even my husband likes it, and I have it on good authority that a gentleman (and I use the word loosely or tightly – in whatever way you choose) by the name of Eric John Baker, a writer of some esteem himself – how much esteem is up to the individual but I do seem to recall (it has been ages since we have spoken of such matters) with rich clarity that he holds himself in quite high esteem, not only for his writing, wit, and profanity (of which he is quite proud) but for his ability to gather around him some of the best fake news writers in the journalistic world today, although the word “today” is quite a slippery word, when you think about it because my today is not necessarily your today and Good Lord! just think what Mitt Romney’s today must look like because so far I have discovered that it bears absolutely no resemblance to mine as it stands today, and there goes that slippery word again – whoops! – put me right on the floor, speaking of which, my floor is now spanking clean because my hubs broke down and purchased a Shark steam cleaner for hard surface floors, the only problem being that some of our floors are quite soft and as I have not yet figured out if I can use that Shark on them, I should say if Hubs can use the Shark on them because he is the one who has used the appliance so far, I have refused to even watch because I don’t want to know how to use it because that would mean that I would have at least a small obligation to use one which would mean that I would be engaging in housecleaning, something I abhor as I would much rather write short snappy sentences as this one or even the occasional run-on sentence that even though long and filled with erudite and precise language still manages to be witty fun and understandable by even the simplest of simpletons, meaning of course those people at Goodreads who abhor my writing in general; I’ve not discovered yet how they feel about myself in general, but in specific it is also not very flattering which really amazes me because I consider myself a witty and erudite woman capable of writing two-word, and meaningful sentences a bit longer, but I couldn’t write any shorter than two unless I come up with one, and being the linguistic expert that I am, I will end this long sentence with that sentence, but you will have to wait for it because I am not done with this one yet – because it is important to mention that while I mentioned Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1 verses 3-14, if you were to read it today (whoops! there goes that slippery word again), you would find that it has been broken up into at least three sentences by those gosh-darnable translators (I have disconnected HBO) who insist on punctuating for those short of breath, but also because since the sentence was originally written in Greek and Greek had no punctuation marks like we use today (darn!), you would probably consider my argument as moot, but I have discovered a verse in the Bible, in the book of Esther that goes like this – “Then the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month Sivan, on the twenty-third day of the month; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, and to the satraps, (satraps is easily one of my favorite nouns), and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, and to the Jews in their writing, and in their. . .” now if I were going to finish my treatise here I would have added the final word and its subsequent period as it appears in the Bible, but not wishing to, I decided to give you the truncated version which leaves out that last word and closes with possibly my favorite bit of punctuation known as the ellipsis, which is, in plural, ellipses. . .I love using those three dots because they say so very much in such a short space on the page; however, I recently was tutored by an even greater grammar expert than I which makes the ellipsis take up more room on the page than once thought, because properly used, the ellipsis must have one space between each dot, i.e., “. . .” instead of the popular “…” and that poses a big problem for me, because while I now know the proper use of the ellipsis, most computer apps and software do not and they will split the ellipsis onto two lines, sometimes, because of the added spaces, which will probably not show up here because I don’t know how your reply space here will print my sentence, but I will try to demonstrate this by showing you here. .
    . – now is that not one of the most annoying things that can happen to an author – because it makes them appear to be dunces, and the authors who use ellipses correctly are most definitely NOT dunces, as you can see, because I do it correctly and am therefore not a dunce, at least in the classical sense of being a person relegated to sit on a stool in the corner of a grade school classroom with a very tall pointed cap on his/her head on which is written the word “DUNCE,” (written on the hat and not the so-called dunce’s head, in case you missed my meaning there), but I did not begin my treatise here to speak of only dunces, although there are plenty of them to write about (I will mention no names out of respect for the unrespected (or is that disrespected?) among us) – you must understand and forgive me that I must end my sentence here – and it has not been a sentence from one of my short stories/poems (a great oxymoron, by the way) – but an essay on long and run-on sentences of which I am probably the world’s greatest; you see, I have only just begun (which reminds me of a song) but I must end because I made the egregious error yesterday (is that word as slippery as today?) of not writing an ode on my blog to and for my dearest hubs on our 37th wedding anniversary and must now try to make amends in some manner appropriate to the oversight, so you see, I have to end this, but not before giving you the world’s shortest sentence, as I promised I would; it is a word packed with meaning – so much meaning that even a sentence as long as this one that I have quickly torn off the top of my head (OUCH!) – would be hard-pressed to trump and actually I believe that it really cannot be trumped: so now the reveal – the world’s shortest sentence is “I.”

    Owing to the fact that I must go blog something for hubs, I could only give you 1,391 words. Sorry about that. If there are any takers (and you should pray that there are not), I will outdo whoever outdoes this).

    Now, aren’t you glad I haven’t commented lately? And I hereby refuse to reply to my reply’s reply. So there!

  • You’re Not Going To Believe This one! «

    […] as I know, I’m still the winner, having come in with a quick 1,391 word sentence   Read it here (and read and subscribe to Eric’s blog(s) while you’re at it! So, just to prove that […]

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