NetGalley

Author Topic: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?  (Read 1568 times)  

Offline kw3000

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 703
  • Rocky Mountains
    • View Profile
Nerdy as it sounds, I enjoy analyzing what makes a given writer's prose tick. I imagine many writers like to do this. I get a kick out of Hemingway in particular for varying reasons, but I especially enjoy his paratactic approach, something I admit I do try to emulate here and there, as stylistically it just agrees with me. Here is wikipedia's definition for parataxis:

"a literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, with the use of coordinating rather than subordinating conjunctions."

What's your opinion of this style? Do you tend toward it in your own work or just the opposite?

In learning about hypotaxis I have to say it's displeasing to my eyes just reading examples of it. The funny thing is, as much as eschew the approach generally when working on fiction, I think I tend toward it casually, in emails for instance, which annoys me to no end.  :)

Here is wikipedia's take on hypotaxis:

"the grammatical arrangement of functionally similar but 'unequal' constructs, i.e., certain constructs have more importance than others inside a sentence."

To lend perhaps more clarity, here's an example of parataxis in fiction, from 'The Crossing' by Cormac McCarthy:

"He ate the last of the eggs and wiped the plate with the tortilla and ate the tortilla and drank the last of the coffee and wiped his mouth and looked up and thanked her."

Another example of parataxis, from 'Men Without Women' by Ernest Hemingway:

"Manuel drank his brandy. He felt sleepy himself. It was too hot to go out into the town. Besides there was nothing to do. He wanted to see Zurito. He would go to sleep while he waited."

A third example of parataxis, from Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises':

"The steer was down now, his neck stretched out, his head twisted, he lay the way he had fallen."

For contrast...

Here's an example of hypotaxis in fiction, from 'The Ring of Time' by E.B. White:

"After the lions had returned to their cages, creeping angrily through the chutes, a little bunch of us drifted away and into an open doorway nearby, where we stood for a while in semi-darkness watching a big brown circus horse go harumphing around the practice ring..."

Another example of hypotaxis, from 'Notes of a Native Son' by James Baldwin:

"In later years, particularly when it began to be clear that this 'education' of mine was going to lead me to perdition, he...warned me that my white friends in high school were not really my friends and that I would see, when I was older, how white people would do anything to keep a [person of color] down. Some of them could be nice, he admitted, but none of them were to be trusted and most of them were not even nice. The best thing was to have as little to do with them as possible. I did not feel this way and I was certain, in my innocence, that I never would."

A third example of hypotaxis, from 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' by Beatrix Potter:

"After losing [his shoes], he ran on four legs and went faster, so that I think he might have got away altogether if he had not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net, and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket."

How about you? Is there a particular style that you prefer, or is it something you don't spend much time considering? If it is something that interests you, do you prefer parataxis, hypotaxis or perhaps none of the above or somewhere in between?

Always fun to engage in a conversation about craft.  8)

Ken Ward

Offline jb1111

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 346
  • PNW US
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 07:46:18 PM »
I suppose I use a mix of both. There are times when run-on sentences like the Cormac McCarthy example are very useful; they provide a sense of urgency when used the right way.

I will also sometimes use longer sentences when describing something -- a person, or nature.

However, shorter feels better most of the time to me, though, when it comes to sentences.

Overall clarity will trump the more literary style nearly every time.

Online Lynn Is A Pseudonym

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 381
  • Human.
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 07:59:33 PM »
I can honestly say I've never once in my life thought about this. However, I still found reading about it interesting!

I've never read any of Cormac McCarthy's books, but I can say based on that sample, it would probably wear me out.

Offline jb1111

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 346
  • PNW US
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 08:13:02 PM »
I can honestly say I've never once in my life thought about this. However, I still found reading about it interesting!

I've never read any of Cormac McCarthy's books, but I can say based on that sample, it would probably wear me out.

The Road is an interesting read. No quote marks, anywhere, where people are speaking.

Online Becca Mills

  • Moderator
  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *****
  • Posts: 9246
  • Gender: Female
  • California
    • View Profile
    • website
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 08:15:12 PM »
Lol, hypotaxis required a refresher course for me. I don't think I've run into or thought about that term since grad school.

I don't use parataxis much. It tends to stand out as a noticeable rhetorical device, and I'm generally going for transparent, unnoticeable prose. So ... once or twice in a book maybe? I use hypotaxis all the time, though. If you don't use subordinating structures, it's hard not to get trapped in short-sentence land. I don't like that.

Offline sela

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1541
  • Gender: Female
  • Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do.
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 08:16:17 PM »
Ooh, totally nerdy conversation!

I think I'm more of hypotaxis author than parataxis.

It feels smoother. While I enjoyed Hemingway and McCarthy's The Road, for example, I tend to prefer something that flows better. I found McCarthy's The Road to be a painful read, both in terms of the content and form.

Actually, I prefer not to even think about the language although sometimes, as an author, I stop to appreciate my fellow author's skill at a turn of a phrase.

I mainly read thrillers and SF for pleasure so I'm big on concepts and suspense and less about literary content or form, but I can appreciate an author who has skill with imagery and metaphor. I just want something to force me to keep reading. Most books don't hold my interest.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 08:18:26 PM by sela »

Online Jena H

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 6668
  • North Carolina
  • Desperate character
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 08:17:47 PM »
To be honest, I find questions like this to be a little pointless.  Writers don't sit down at their typewriters (or computers, thee days) and think "Okay, I'm going to use the paratactic method."

And yeah, I have to admit, those example sentences are pretty dull.  Some of them could even be called examples of poor writing.   :-\
Jena

Offline sela

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1541
  • Gender: Female
  • Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do.
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2018, 08:20:52 PM »
To be honest, I find questions like this to be a little pointless.  Writers don't sit down at their typewriters (or computers, thee days) and think "Okay, I'm going to use the paratactic method."

And yeah, I have to admit, those example sentences are pretty dull.  Some of them could even be called examples of poor writing.   :-\

No, but it is interesting to look at one's own writing and see it analytically. Some people have that kind of brain and there's nothing wrong with it. And some authors do think about their style and what it is. And there's nothing wrong with that either.  8)

As to poor writing? One man's trash is another man's treasure. For me, story is king and the language is just a vehicle to convey story to the reader.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 08:22:27 PM by sela »

Online Confused Fairywren

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Australia
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 08:31:31 PM »
I've never come across these terms before but the concept is interesting.

I'd say I definitely lean towards hypotaxis and subordinate clauses, but it varies. I don't think about particular literary devices when I write, but I do pay attention to rhythm (that's the closest I can get to describing it). I'll often stop and reread a paragraph and go, "huh, all these sentences have the same structure. Better turn this one into a coordinate clause instead."

Offline P.J. Post

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2736
  • There is no spoon.
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 08:38:58 PM »
To be honest, I find questions like this to be a little pointless.  Writers don't sit down at their typewriters (or computers, thee days) and think "Okay, I'm going to use the paratactic method."

And yeah, I have to admit, those example sentences are pretty dull.  Some of them could even be called examples of poor writing.   :-\

Um...some of us actually do, well, I do, anyway. Narrative pacing is really important, especially for establishing mood and emotions. It's like setting up a punch line in a joke, except we have the ability through narrative flow to keep the setup going for thousands of words, even jumping from chapter to chapter and book to book with short, punchy memorable phrases. I'm also influenced by poetry, even how the lines appear on the page, and put a lot of time in working out the rhythm and beats of the prose. Not saying I'm any good at it, just that I work at it.

As for the examples, context usually matters.

Oh...so, back to the OP: both for me, as necessary for whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish. I didn't know they had names. Thanks for the post, craft is always fun.  :)

No, but it is interesting to look at one's own writing and see it analytically. Some people have that kind of brain and there's nothing wrong with it. And some authors do think about their style and what it is. And there's nothing wrong with that either.  8)

As to poor writing? One man's trash is another man's treasure. For me, story is king and the language is just a vehicle to convey story to the reader.

I agree about serving the story, but how we present that story is pretty important too. It's usually where all the feelz are.


Offline Shawn Inmon

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1512
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2018, 09:07:29 PM »
I like short sentences. Simple sentences. Shorter paragraphs and chapters.

When I polled my readers, I found a sizable percentage of them read my books on their phones, and those that do dislike large, blocky chunks of print.

One of the first things I do on every MS is go through and look for sentences of more than 20 words. I certainly don't take them all out, but I try to simplify as many as I can. I usually average an 82 or so on the Fleisch Readability Scale, which is a sweet spot for me.

Shawn Inmon | Website | Facebook

Online Linn

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 135
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2018, 09:43:37 PM »
I don't think about particular literary devices when I write, but I do pay attention to rhythm (that's the closest I can get to describing it). I'll often stop and reread a paragraph and go, "huh, all these sentences have the same structure. Better turn this one into a coordinate clause instead."

This drives me nuts. I don't seem to notice meter when I'm reading other writers' prose (poetry excluded), but I can't get it out of my head when I'm writing. And just like you said, I end up with a lot of sentences that share the same structure. It's a curse I can't seem to rid myself of. If anyone knows of a cure for this malady, please feel free to post it here.  :)


Online cecilia_writer

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1195
  • Edinburgh
    • View Profile
    • Cecilia Peartree - woman of mystery (blog)
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2018, 10:20:45 PM »
I think reading whole books written in either style would be very difficult. My writing hero is Orwell, whose books I always find very clear and easy to read, and who I think is a more elegant writer than Hemingway.
As a writer I've tried to train myself to vary the length and complexity of sentences as I go along, although I don't always notice sentences rambling on at the time and I often have to disentangle them when editing.
I didn't even know there were terms for this kind of thing - maybe they've only been invented since I was at school!

Offline Colin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1810
  • Gender: Male
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2018, 12:03:49 AM »
I prefer hippo taxis. They are much roomier than standard taxis.

Offline jb1111

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 346
  • PNW US
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2018, 12:28:39 AM »
I like short sentences. Simple sentences. Shorter paragraphs and chapters.

When I polled my readers, I found a sizable percentage of them read my books on their phones, and those that do dislike large, blocky chunks of print.


I use shorter paragraphs for much the same reason: I read a couple books on my Kindle and realized just how laborious a process reading massive paragraphs would be on it -- the "pages" on a Kindle are shorter than many book pages, and massive paragraphs are naturally more difficult to read than shorter ones.

Offline C. Gold

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2114
    • View Profile
    • Golden Elm Publishing
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2018, 12:31:12 AM »
I didn't know the adult version of Dick and Jane was an actual writing style. I just thought it was bad writing.  :o If a story is using all short, simple sentences, I'm not buying it. That is the worst sort of torture to read and is one of my lines in the sand I shall not cross. I will read mixed tense, in-paragraph head hopping, and first person present before reading a book written using this style. It's that jarring to me. Like nails scratching a chalkboard.

I'm very conscious about varying sentence length and structure when writing. I will use short. But only occasionally. To mimic stilted thought. Or fast paced action. And I will use the longer, more subordinating stuff, when articulating how a person is mulling over something, assuming they are in a safe place where the pacing can be slower. Scenic prose is usually medium to long as I come up with visuals to delight like sun reflecting off water ripples in a pond. Also, I vary how sentences begin by sometimes adding phrases to the beginning and ensuring the starting word is different between adjacent sentences or even within the paragraph. The long, run-on sentences are useful for mimicking an excited child exhaling words in a single burst -- fun in small quantities, but exhausting to read an entire book like that.

I concede that on Kindle readers, paragraphs look like walls of text so I tend to paragraph more often to keep that to a minimum. But epic fantasy is sometimes epic in prose, too!  ;D

Offline kw3000

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 703
  • Rocky Mountains
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2018, 12:53:49 AM »
I appreciate all of the thoughtful responses here. Thank you.

In answer to one of the responses above, I admit it might be stupid of me or a waste of time, but on days when I don't feel like working on my WIP, I will sit down and work on differing stylistic approaches to a new piece. I suppose it might be silly or hackneyed to liken it to working out in a gym, but there it is. Somehow I find it soothing to the mind, and sometimes I find it even excites me. I think that might be because it feels like I'm pushing up against boundaries or the limits of my ability and wondering if there's a way I can expand or move past them.

So, yes, I do consciously decide from time to time to try working paratactically on a given theme as a means of improving or shaping who I am as a writer. Less often I will do the same employing a hypotactic approach, but I will try. I have so much to learn.

Thanks again, everyone.

Oh, and Colin, who needs a roomier hippo taxi when you can simply split up and take a parataxis?  ;D

Ken Ward

Offline Colin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1810
  • Gender: Male
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2018, 01:35:25 AM »

Oh, and Colin, who needs a roomier hippo taxi when you can simply split up and take a parataxis?  ;D

A pair of taxis generally cost more. But I get your point.  ;)

Offline thesmallprint

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2018, 02:29:46 AM »
I like rhythm.

Online Jena H

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 6668
  • North Carolina
  • Desperate character
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2018, 03:34:45 AM »
I've never come across these terms before but the concept is interesting.

I'd say I definitely lean towards hypotaxis and subordinate clauses, but it varies. I don't think about particular literary devices when I write, but I do pay attention to rhythm (that's the closest I can get to describing it). I'll often stop and reread a paragraph and go, "huh, all these sentences have the same structure. Better turn this one into a coordinate clause instead."

This.  It's about flow, about what sounds right.  Not run-on sentences, or sentence which jump around from one topic to another: "He ate the last of the eggs and wiped the plate with the tortilla and ate the tortilla and drank the last of the coffee and wiped his mouth and looked up and thanked her."  Let's face it, if a Kboards newbie posted a sentence like that from his/her first book, everyone would urge a re-write, because it's not a good sentence. 

Jena

Offline thesmallprint

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2018, 05:10:23 AM »
Slightly off topic but I'd hate to see anyone put off by the McCarthy quote. He's my favourite author so allow for some bias in my comments. When I first came across McCarthy (The Border Trilogy), I almost quit at page 6 because of the style outlined above. But as I read on, I realised he was weaving a tapestry that simply couldn't be judged by a tiny illustrated part. His poetic style draws you into the book ever bit as much as the story itself does. Give him a try. And persevere.

Offline tdecastro31

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 66
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2018, 05:36:40 AM »
I would guess I lean towards enjoying parataxis in reading (I love both Hemingway and McCarthy)...though, I may be more a hypo in my writing (possibly something to do with voice).  It's an interesting (and refreshing) question.  Thanks.

Online idontknowyet

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 206
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2018, 05:38:56 AM »
I prefer hippo taxis. They are much roomier than standard taxis.

lol!!!!!!!! ;D

Offline SevenDays

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2938
  • Gender: Female
  • PNW
  • Imagine something cool and witty here.
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2018, 05:47:04 AM »

In answer to one of the responses above, I admit it might be stupid of me or a waste of time, but on days when I don't feel like working on my WIP, I will sit down and work on differing stylistic approaches to a new piece. I suppose it might be silly or hackneyed to liken it to working out in a gym, but there it is. Somehow I find it soothing to the mind, and sometimes I find it even excites me. I think that might be because it feels like I'm pushing up against boundaries or the limits of my ability and wondering if there's a way I can expand or move past them.



There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, one of the things I've found most frustrating and just plain weird about the self pub community is how little people seem to talk about the craft of writing. Some don't even care at all. As long as they're selling they DGAD, and when they're not they try to fix covers and blurbs and all the wrapping paper without stopping to consider their prose is the culprit. That's so ... intellectually incurious.

For the record, I lean more toward hypotaxis in my prose. As a reader ... a mixture of both?

Alex A. King | Website

Online idontknowyet

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 206
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2018, 05:50:51 AM »
Currently,  I write a mish mosh of words that sometimes resemble sentences. They will probably end up making my editor cry and want to bash their head on a wall. Is there a style for that???


In all seriousness, when I first read your post I would have sworn you were writting in Latin. For the person that barely took english 2 in college, they basically mean complex or simple sentences right? I like to use a combination of both. Using one or the other solely can be boring to read.
I enjoy reading the nerdy discussions here and sometimes learn something. Eww learning!  :o

Offline Rob Martin

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Gender: Male
  • New York
    • View Profile
    • Robert Martin Writes
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2018, 05:52:27 AM »
While editing, hypotaxis. Though honestly, while writing, I tend to use both.

Offline GeneDoucette

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2237
    • View Profile
    • Gene Doucette's Blog
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2018, 06:03:45 AM »
I've never heard of these terms. I'm fascinated, and also have no idea which i employ with regularity. I intermingle short sentences with long sentences to establish mood and pace. I will write extremely lengthy sentences for effect, and short, choppy sentences in tense situations. Beyond that, I have't given it a thought. That said, if you asked me to diagram a sentence to save my life, I would die.

Offline thegreenheron

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 11
    • View Profile
    • Author Website
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2018, 06:24:16 AM »
I didn't know the terms, but I do think about things like this when I write. But in the end, I am with the group who are most focused on the way the sentences and paragraphs flow together, along with the type of mood conveyed. I actually will convert my late draft to an e-version and read it on my Kindle or iPad, specifically looking for spots that don't "sound" right to my ear.

I think there's a misconception that shorter and simpler sentences are easy to write; I've seen writers try to emulate Hemingway with cringeworthy results. To achieve his spare style, I think he likely edited every word to within an inch of it's life.

Online katherinef

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1012
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2018, 06:48:57 AM »
Mostly hypotaxis, but in some situations parataxis fits better. As for Cormac McCarthy, the only thing that kept me going through one of his books was my desire to see all the characters die a painful death. Although, I found the story more annoying than his style. If the story is good and readable, I don't care much about the style.
De gustibus non est disputandum.

Ignore people's pet peeves and write on!

"If you tell me the characters should be smarter, I'm going to wonder if you've actually met any humans." - T

Offline VanessaC

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 270
  • Gender: Female
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2018, 07:56:36 AM »
Am I the only one who saw the thread title and thought these were medical conditions? 

Just me, then ...

Fascinating discussion, thank you kw3000 for starting it and for such a detailed opening post.

I prefer a mix in both my writing and my reading - constant short, choppy sentences get very staccato after a while, and if there are too many long, flowery sentences you forget what the heck the subject was.  Or perhaps that's just me, again.  ;D

Offline Colin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1810
  • Gender: Male
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2018, 08:16:57 AM »
Am I the only one who saw the thread title and thought these were medical conditions? 
Yes. You are unique. Or you could be suffering from Hypotaxis. In case you were wondering, Parataxis usually only effects those over the age of 95 who drink 18-20 bottles of wine a day.

:)

Online idontknowyet

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 206
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #31 on: June 12, 2018, 11:50:37 AM »
Am I the only one who saw the thread title and thought these were medical conditions? 

Just me, then ...

Fascinating discussion, thank you kw3000 for starting it and for such a detailed opening post.

I prefer a mix in both my writing and my reading - constant short, choppy sentences get very staccato after a while, and if there are too many long, flowery sentences you forget what the heck the subject was.  Or perhaps that's just me, again.  ;D

This makes me think of NCIS in one episode the main character talked in staccato it was hysterical

The.Next.Time.You.See.Me.You.Will.Know.That.You.Are.Safe.

I have never laughed and cried so hard at the stupidity of a scene before.

I haven't ever seen it used successfully, but I am sure it can be done.

Online Becca Mills

  • Moderator
  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *****
  • Posts: 9246
  • Gender: Female
  • California
    • View Profile
    • website
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #32 on: June 12, 2018, 01:42:08 PM »
I like short sentences. Simple sentences. Shorter paragraphs and chapters.

When I polled my readers, I found a sizable percentage of them read my books on their phones, and those that do dislike large, blocky chunks of print.

One of the first things I do on every MS is go through and look for sentences of more than 20 words. I certainly don't take them all out, but I try to simplify as many as I can. I usually average an 82 or so on the Fleisch Readability Scale, which is a sweet spot for me.

I'm hitting about the same spot, of late:



But actively trying to avoid subordinating structures could push average sentence length well below nine words, I think, as sentences like After John left, I sat down to think. become John left. I sat down to think. Not sure I want to go there.

Offline kw3000

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 703
  • Rocky Mountains
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #33 on: June 12, 2018, 01:45:04 PM »
This.  It's about flow, about what sounds right.  Not run-on sentences, or sentence which jump around from one topic to another: "He ate the last of the eggs and wiped the plate with the tortilla and ate the tortilla and drank the last of the coffee and wiped his mouth and looked up and thanked her."  Let's face it, if a Kboards newbie posted a sentence like that from his/her first book, everyone would urge a re-write, because it's not a good sentence.

What sounds 'right' being subjective, I quite like McCarthy's turn of phrase in that example and in the general sense. I have read a few of his works now, but I still remember the first time I'd cracked open 'All the Pretty Horses' and I was just blown away. I would like to think if I were confronted with that sentence above written by an unknown I'd be every bit as awed.

Slightly off topic but I'd hate to see anyone put off by the McCarthy quote. He's my favourite author so allow for some bias in my comments. When I first came across McCarthy (The Border Trilogy), I almost quit at page 6 because of the style outlined above. But as I read on, I realised he was weaving a tapestry that simply couldn't be judged by a tiny illustrated part. His poetic style draws you into the book ever bit as much as the story itself does. Give him a try. And persevere.

I am biased as well given my preference for paratactic style. I have heard people balk at McCarthy's approach when they first tackle 'The Road', but I found the entire work affecting. Perhaps his style plays better if taken as a whole as opposed to in snippets.

There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, one of the things I've found most frustrating and just plain weird about the self pub community is how little people seem to talk about the craft of writing. Some don't even care at all. As long as they're selling they DGAD, and when they're not they try to fix covers and blurbs and all the wrapping paper without stopping to consider their prose is the culprit. That's so ... intellectually incurious.

For the record, I lean more toward hypotaxis in my prose. As a reader ... a mixture of both?

Agreed. I would enjoy even more craft discussion in the Writers Cafe. I find it helpful and fascinating. At the same time, I don't want to annoy my fellow kboarders by continually posting craft threads if it's something they find irksome.

I've never heard of these terms. I'm fascinated, and also have no idea which i employ with regularity. I intermingle short sentences with long sentences to establish mood and pace. I will write extremely lengthy sentences for effect, and short, choppy sentences in tense situations. Beyond that, I have't given it a thought. That said, if you asked me to diagram a sentence to save my life, I would die.

I have often read that one should vary sentence length for maximum readability and that's something I've tried to do through the years, but I do tire of it, for whatever reason. I suppose I shouldn't question the advice, but I do find myself rebelling against it more and more as I get older. Instead of stubbornness, I prefer to think of it as growth.  ;D

Your mentioning of extremely lengthy sentences reminds me of David Foster Wallace's prose. It can be pretty jarring to go from reading Wallace's paragraph-length run-ons in 'Infinite Jest' to Hemingway's meat and potatoes in 'The Old Man and the Sea'. As much as I appreciated certain passages and the humor that runs through IJ, I much prefer Hemingway's style. I'm stating the obvious there, I realize, given the thrust of this thread.

I should point out though, I have no problem with extremely lengthy sentences. Many of Wallace's are works of art unto themselves, it takes a lot of talent to employ them effectively. It's a talent I do not possess.

I didn't know the terms, but I do think about things like this when I write. But in the end, I am with the group who are most focused on the way the sentences and paragraphs flow together, along with the type of mood conveyed. I actually will convert my late draft to an e-version and read it on my Kindle or iPad, specifically looking for spots that don't "sound" right to my ear.

I think there's a misconception that shorter and simpler sentences are easy to write; I've seen writers try to emulate Hemingway with cringeworthy results. To achieve his spare style, I think he likely edited every word to within an inch of it's life.


I can attest that shorter and simpler does not equate to easier. A lot of my work is pretty high on the cringe-o-meter. I'll keep trying though.  :)

As for Cormac McCarthy, the only thing that kept me going through one of his books was my desire to see all the characters die a painful death.

LOL!  Not the first time I've heard that. :)

Am I the only one who saw the thread title and thought these were medical conditions? 

Just me, then ...

Fascinating discussion, thank you kw3000 for starting it and for such a detailed opening post.

I prefer a mix in both my writing and my reading - constant short, choppy sentences get very staccato after a while, and if there are too many long, flowery sentences you forget what the heck the subject was.  Or perhaps that's just me, again.  ;D

Hey, no problem. Glad to know there's others out there who find the subject interesting. Had a good chuckle about the medical condition thing.

In terms of writing and reading. I hear you about the staccato nature of a paratactic approach, though I will say that I find the staccato lends something to the experience more than it takes away for me. It's a stylistic choice that I think really adds to the story and my enjoyment.

I liken story to a stretch of road the author has laid out and the road has specific characteristics chosen by its engineer. The intent in building that road, as opposed (usually) to the building of actual roads where efficiency and safety are of paramount concern, is to take you somewhere the author/engineer wants you to go, but also in a manner of the engineer's choosing. Kind of like how a rollercoaster designer has a specific experience in mind for riders when they're thinking about the design.

Perhaps given the context of the scene or the manner in which the author means to convey 'x', said author wants the reader to traverse a bumpy road, thus the usefulness of staccato that often accompanies the paratactic approach.

You (general you, not "you" you) want to take the reader on a journey and/or provide them with an experience. A road trip involving diverse terrain be it cobblestones, gravel, moguls, streams, or ice might provide more of an experience than say 200 pages of smooth asphalt.

Am I conveying this in a way that makes sense? It's easy to get lost in ones own mind, as least it is for me. But, I suppose my point is I find shorter and sometimes choppier sentences in sequence can provide an enriching journey all their own. They can be the loop-de-loops in the rollercoaster or the terrifying Class 6 rapids in the river or the undulating bumps in the road that leave you breathless and feeling as though you'd really just gone through something. Quite a goal to strive toward.  8)

Ken Ward

Offline A Fading Street

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
  • Professional Editing FREE 1st chapter sample edit
    • View Profile
    • A Fading Street Publishing Services
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #34 on: June 12, 2018, 01:58:11 PM »
The Road is an interesting read. No quote marks, anywhere, where people are speaking.
It is the only one of McCarthy's books I've read and I have to say it will probably be the only one I ever do. Maybe it's the traditionalist in me but I found the lack of standard punctuation really distracting and it made the book extremely tedious for me.
A Fading Street Publishing Services.
Ghostwriting all genres from $200 per 10000 words
Rewriting from $0.04 per word. Audio and Handwritten Transcription$0.003 per word.
Proofreading $0.002 per word, Copy Editing $0.005 per word. Ghostwriting from $200 per 10000 words.
SPECIAL PACKAGE RATE for Beta, Copy Edit, Final Proof  at $0.0055 per word.
My Kboards Thread for Testimonials http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,241950.0.html
Yellow Pages Entry

Online OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2018, 06:40:05 PM »
This drives me nuts. I don't seem to notice meter when I'm reading other writers' prose (poetry excluded), but I can't get it out of my head when I'm writing. And just like you said, I end up with a lot of sentences that share the same structure. It's a curse I can't seem to rid myself of. If anyone knows of a cure for this malady, please feel free to post it here.  :)

I use ProWritingAid. It has a report that will show you the sentences and number of words, giving you both the number of times you used the same number and a graph to show the up's and downs.
To be broken is to be singularly beautiful. Only the shattered are unique in a world of plastic. Scars are the tribal marks of the forgotten, they are how we know our own.

Online OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #36 on: June 12, 2018, 06:46:59 PM »
There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, one of the things I've found most frustrating and just plain weird about the self pub community is how little people seem to talk about the craft of writing. Some don't even care at all. As long as they're selling they DGAD, and when they're not they try to fix covers and blurbs and all the wrapping paper without stopping to consider their prose is the culprit. That's so ... intellectually incurious.

For the record, I lean more toward hypotaxis in my prose. As a reader ... a mixture of both?

I love words, the craft of putting them together and the magic that is in the greatest thing man has created. Knowing the art of the word is like seeing a master conjurer for the first time ... simply beautiful. Words are love and hate, they stir the soul and move the world, they've soothed the evil's of heart break and make life worth living. Who hasn't read a poem and come to tears at the aching truth that suddenly pierces the soul? Who hasn't paused in the middle of a story to marvel at the beauty of a sentence or the raw truth that was laid bleeding before your eyes?

Knowing the craft teaches you how to do this not by chance but by design. The learned are masters of the word. A mastership that I envy. As for the question, well I think I've answered that.  ;D
To be broken is to be singularly beautiful. Only the shattered are unique in a world of plastic. Scars are the tribal marks of the forgotten, they are how we know our own.

Offline tdecastro31

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 66
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #37 on: June 12, 2018, 07:34:25 PM »
It is the only one of McCarthy's books I've read and I have to say it will probably be the only one I ever do. Maybe it's the traditionalist in me but I found the lack of standard punctuation really distracting and it made the book extremely tedious for me.

Another one of my favorites.

Offline Bristle

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #38 on: June 13, 2018, 01:34:36 AM »
 I don't have any particular style but I do enjoy playing with words and seeing how scenes 'play' through a simple word change or two and so will possibly use both methods in a chapter without any real thought.


 
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 01:55:12 AM by Bristle »
Words gushing upon the page; morsels and dabs of all sorts of delectable considerations vying for space to catch my eye - I wonder how they'll taste on a big home baked slice of rye.

Offline VanessaC

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 270
  • Gender: Female
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #39 on: June 13, 2018, 01:49:59 AM »
This makes me think of NCIS in one episode the main character talked in staccato it was hysterical

The.Next.Time.You.See.Me.You.Will.Know.That.You.Are.Safe.

I have never laughed and cried so hard at the stupidity of a scene before.

I haven't ever seen it used successfully, but I am sure it can be done.

A show beloved by so many, but so, so much potential for ridicule.

Yes. You are unique. Or you could be suffering from Hypotaxis. In case you were wondering, Parataxis usually only effects those over the age of 95 who drink 18-20 bottles of wine a day.

:)

Phew - I was worried there for a moment.  :D


In terms of writing and reading. I hear you about the staccato nature of a paratactic approach, though I will say that I find the staccato lends something to the experience more than it takes away for me. It's a stylistic choice that I think really adds to the story and my enjoyment.

I liken story to a stretch of road the author has laid out and the road has specific characteristics chosen by its engineer. The intent in building that road, as opposed (usually) to the building of actual roads where efficiency and safety are of paramount concern, is to take you somewhere the author/engineer wants you to go, but also in a manner of the engineer's choosing. Kind of like how a rollercoaster designer has a specific experience in mind for riders when they're thinking about the design.

Perhaps given the context of the scene or the manner in which the author means to convey 'x', said author wants the reader to traverse a bumpy road, thus the usefulness of staccato that often accompanies the paratactic approach.

You (general you, not "you" you) want to take the reader on a journey and/or provide them with an experience. A road trip involving diverse terrain be it cobblestones, gravel, moguls, streams, or ice might provide more of an experience than say 200 pages of smooth asphalt.

Am I conveying this in a way that makes sense? It's easy to get lost in ones own mind, as least it is for me. But, I suppose my point is I find shorter and sometimes choppier sentences in sequence can provide an enriching journey all their own. They can be the loop-de-loops in the rollercoaster or the terrifying Class 6 rapids in the river or the undulating bumps in the road that leave you breathless and feeling as though you'd really just gone through something. Quite a goal to strive toward.  8)

Nice analogy.  I do like a good analogy. 

I've driven on way too many badly maintained roads to want a constantly bumpy ride - don't mind a bit of cobbles now and then, or going off road onto dirt tracks for some adventure, but for the most part, a smooth, well-maintained stretch of tarmac generally gets my vote.  ;D

(I am of course a sample of one, and if nothing else, threads like this prove that we all have different opinions and preferences, and if you widen that out to the pool of readers in the world, we should all be able to find readers that like our particular styles.)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 01:56:37 AM by VanessaC »

Offline Jack Krenneck

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 678
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #40 on: June 13, 2018, 02:21:45 AM »
I wasn't familiar with those terms. But here are a few highly personal opinions.

...wikipedia's definition for parataxis:

"a literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, with the use of coordinating rather than subordinating conjunctions."

There are obvious benefits of short and simple sentences. Not least that they give clarity and can carry great power. But, I fail to see any gain or purpose in favoring coordinating over subordinating conjunctions. It's not natural. Perhaps there are reasons in a short paragraph. As a writing style for extended use? Disastrous.


"He ate the last of the eggs and wiped the plate with the tortilla and ate the tortilla and drank the last of the coffee and wiped his mouth and looked up and thanked her."

To me, this is gibberish. What sort of egomaniac would inflict this on the world?


"Manuel drank his brandy. He felt sleepy himself. It was too hot to go out into the town. Besides there was nothing to do. He wanted to see Zurito. He would go to sleep while he waited."

Gibberish again.


"The steer was down now, his neck stretched out, his head twisted, he lay the way he had fallen."

I would be tempted to think the author had potential.


"After the lions had returned to their cages, creeping angrily through the chutes, a little bunch of us drifted away and into an open doorway nearby, where we stood for a while in semi-darkness watching a big brown circus horse go harumphing around the practice ring..."

Not gibberish. Not good either.

"In later years, particularly when it began to be clear that this 'education' of mine was going to lead me to perdition, he...warned me that my white friends in high school were not really my friends and that I would see, when I was older, how white people would do anything to keep a [person of color] down. Some of them could be nice, he admitted, but none of them were to be trusted and most of them were not even nice. The best thing was to have as little to do with them as possible. I did not feel this way and I was certain, in my innocence, that I never would."

Not gibberish. But boring as all hell.

"After losing [his shoes], he ran on four legs and went faster, so that I think he might have got away altogether if he had not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net, and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket."

Acceptable.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 02:25:09 AM by Jack Krenneck »

Offline DonovanJeremiah

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 79
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #41 on: June 13, 2018, 04:34:05 AM »
Put me down on the list of those who didn't know these had actual names.

I use them, sometimes on accident and like how they sound, sometimes on purpose because I like how they flow. Depends on what the scene needs at the time. I appreciate the cleanliness that Hemingway presents, I like the flow that McCarthy presents.

Agreed. I would enjoy even more craft discussion in the Writers Cafe. I find it helpful and fascinating. At the same time, I don't want to annoy my fellow kboarders by continually posting craft threads if it's something they find irksome.

This makes me sad. This board is huge. We have threads out the butt that complain about amazon or what some writer's doing this week, or cover threads or blurb threads or what's new in self publishing news threads... and people don't have an issue of skipping over those if it doesn't suit them to participate.

But let one craft thread pop up with an interesting discussion and now it's a burden on the community and a waste of time?


 ::)

I'm glad you started the thread. I learned something new. It has value for me. Value is why I'm here.

Offline pklasky

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 24
    • View Profile
    • The Stone Eagle
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #42 on: June 13, 2018, 05:52:31 AM »
Interesting discussion. I'd never heard of the terms before today.

I write YA historical fiction (Romans/Goth barbarians). Many terms, cultural references and situations are unfamiliar to my target audience (12-16 year olds). I'm also dealing with a large cast of characters. The more complex the vocabulary or scene structure, the shorter and more simplistic my sentences. (At least, that's the goal.)

Revelation: I often draft in hypotaxis and edit into parataxis.


P.K. Lasky | Website | Amazon Page

Offline kw3000

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 703
  • Rocky Mountains
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2018, 09:29:11 AM »
I wasn't familiar with those terms. But here are a few highly personal opinions.

There are obvious benefits of short and simple sentences. Not least that they give clarity and can carry great power. But, I fail to see any gain or purpose in favoring coordinating over subordinating conjunctions. It's not natural. Perhaps there are reasons in a short paragraph. As a writing style for extended use? Disastrous.

To me, this is gibberish. What sort of egomaniac would inflict this on the world?

Gibberish again.

I would be tempted to think the author had potential.

Not gibberish. Not good either.

Not gibberish. But boring as all hell.

Acceptable.



Hemingway and McCarthy, gibberish? Yikes, lol...agree to disagree. I don't view either's approach as egomaniacal or in some way an imposition they're foisting upon me. I'm not sure if by referring to ego you mean to say McCarthy chooses his turns of phrase as something he wishes to inflict upon the reader? I take his approach more as him working out the best way he knows how to convey the story in a manner that is most efficient or perhaps most resonates in his own mind. Hard to say. I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

I look at examples of parataxis, like the McCarthy passage, and I see cleanliness and efficiency. Also, the way the words are arranged creates a patter as I read. It helps set the scene in my mind. Tastes differ though obviously, but for me when I read that McCarthy passage or his books in general, I find his stylistic approach thrilling and quite effective. Something I find myself wishing to emulate.

Different strokes though, I recognize, as you'd said they're your personal opinions, and I was interested to read them. What kind of literary world would it be if we all agreed?  :)

Put me down on the list of those who didn't know these had actual names.

I use them, sometimes on accident and like how they sound, sometimes on purpose because I like how they flow. Depends on what the scene needs at the time. I appreciate the cleanliness that Hemingway presents, I like the flow that McCarthy presents.

This makes me sad. This board is huge. We have threads out the butt that complain about amazon or what some writer's doing this week, or cover threads or blurb threads or what's new in self publishing news threads... and people don't have an issue of skipping over those if it doesn't suit them to participate.

But let one craft thread pop up with an interesting discussion and now it's a burden on the community and a waste of time?


 ::)

I'm glad you started the thread. I learned something new. It has value for me. Value is why I'm here.

A strong vote of confidence for craft discussion. Nice to see. Obviously, I agree with you, there's more than enough room for these kinds of threads. Offers some contrast as well to a lot of doom and gloom that can hover around self-publishing.  :)

Ken Ward

Offline Madeline_Kirby

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 89
  • Gender: Female
  • Houston, Texas
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #44 on: June 13, 2018, 09:48:29 AM »
I don't think about it one way or another. My writing tends to be dialogue heavy, and I write mainly in the first person, so I tailor my writing to the personality and style of whichever character is speaking. Thinking about it, I use both, at different times, to suit the occasion.

Cable's Bend Book 2: 34%


Not a Zombie - Jake & Boo 3: 50%


Not an Elf - Jake & Boo 4: 1%

Jake & Boo - cozy, paranormal mystery with a dash of M/M romance. And cats.
Madeline Kirby | Twitter | Blog

Online Becca Mills

  • Moderator
  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *****
  • Posts: 9246
  • Gender: Female
  • California
    • View Profile
    • website
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #45 on: June 13, 2018, 12:04:30 PM »
Welcome to KBoards, Bristle. :)

Agreed. I would enjoy even more craft discussion in the Writers Cafe. I find it helpful and fascinating. At the same time, I don't want to annoy my fellow kboarders by continually posting craft threads if it's something they find irksome.

Start 'em! I <3 craft threads, and I'm sure many others do too.  :)

Offline kw3000

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 703
  • Rocky Mountains
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2018, 12:08:35 PM »
Welcome to KBoards, Bristle. :)

Start 'em! I <3 craft threads, and I'm sure many others do too.  :)

That's encouraging to hear, Becca, thanks. Obviously, one can go overboard by posting too many threads and I don't wanna be that person. But, I can think of a craft discussion or two that I think are worth having. :)

Ken Ward

Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

  • Status: Isaac Asimov
  • ********
  • Posts: 10751
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Don't let your emotions overpower your intellect
    • View Profile
    • www.just4kix.jimdo.com
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2018, 12:11:45 PM »
Glad you provided and explanation and examples  ::)

From your examples.

Parataxis is like watching a tennis match.

Hypotaxis is like watching a pleasant meandering stream.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 12:14:18 PM by Jan Hurst-Nicholson »

Fiction, family saga, humour, short stories, teen, children's
Jan Hurst-Nicholson | author website

Online Athena Grayson

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Athena Grayson
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #48 on: June 13, 2018, 12:14:35 PM »
I haven't come across the terms before, but I'm definitely more of the parataxis writer. Hypotaxis should be reserved for the action scenes. I'm more of a Jane Austen than a Hemingway, except when there's action. Plus, hypotaxis sounds like it was written by an AI when there's nothing to break it up. When I'm "in the zone" on a WIP, I'm as much a beat poet as I am a TV show runner.

Space opera with sizzle
Athena Grayson | site | newsletter | facebook

Offline Jack Krenneck

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 678
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #49 on: June 13, 2018, 02:05:29 PM »
Hemingway and McCarthy, gibberish? Yikes, lol...agree to disagree.

Yep, just my personal opinion.

Obviously, both famed writers. They won prizes etc. I think they had very limited commercial success though. And probably what book sales they had was as a result of winning prizes... It's an interesting (and un-provable proposition) that if their books were launched into the world today they would sink into literary oblivion. 

What kind of literary world would it be if we all agreed?  :)

A boring one.

A strong vote of confidence for craft discussion. Nice to see. Obviously, I agree with you, there's more than enough room for these kinds of threads. Offers some contrast as well to a lot of doom and gloom that can hover around self-publishing.  :)

I love craft threads myself. Bring them on, I say.

Offline CynthiaClay

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 294
    • View Profile
    • Cynthia Joyce Clay
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #50 on: June 13, 2018, 02:34:03 PM »
To be honest, I find questions like this to be a little pointless.  Writers don't sit down at their typewriters (or computers, thee days) and think "Okay, I'm going to use the paratactic method."

And yeah, I have to admit, those example sentences are pretty dull.  Some of them could even be called examples of poor writing.   :-\

I disagree that it is pointless because readers do tend to favor one or the other or even something else. I myself can't stand parataxis. When I sit down to write I make the choice to avoid it. Finding it in my own writing or others, my reaction is like my reaction to cockroaches: "Kill it! Kill it! Kill it quick!" I'm not at all an Earnest Hemmingway fan. To me it just sounds like Run Tip Run.

That said, while using the more musical style of using both subordination and coordination, the sudden use of a parataxic statement can create quite a dramatic effect.

Thanks for supporting my art.
Cynthia Joyce Clay | Cynthia Joyce Clay's Blog | Plays I've Filmed | Cynthia Joyce Clay's Blog

Offline WHDean

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2235
  • Gender: Male
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    • View Profile
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #51 on: June 13, 2018, 03:58:38 PM »
Bear in mind that the difference between parataxis and hypotaxis isn't the number of words in a sentence. The difference is coordination of clauses versus subordination of clauses.

I walked down the street and kicked at the dust and prayed for rain. (= para)

Walking down the street, I kicked at the dust, praying for rain. (= hypo)


I gotta admit that this thread makes me feel bad. I must've raised paratactic versus hypotactic dozens of times. Was all my effort in vain? Lonely, so lonely, lonely and feeling blue... :(

Offline CynthiaClay

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 294
    • View Profile
    • Cynthia Joyce Clay
Re: Craft Discussion: Do you prefer Parataxis or Hypotaxis or neither?
« Reply #52 on: June 13, 2018, 04:07:05 PM »
I don't think about it one way or another. My writing tends to be dialogue heavy, and I write mainly in the first person, so I tailor my writing to the personality and style of whichever character is speaking. Thinking about it, I use both, at different times, to suit the occasion.

I write playscripts as well as novels, and nothing is more dialogy or first persony than a  playscript. (Unless the characters are arguing.) After I had written a bunch of play scripts I turned to writing a fantasy novel. My writers' group at the time got very confused because, as they pointed out, the first twenty pages were dialog. Had to fix that!

But in dialog there are many interesting things to do if you think about how you write it. Shakespeare worked sonnets into some of his dialog. For instance Romeo and Juliet's dialog when they first meet has a sonnet worked into it. Likewise when Lear rages at Cordelia in the opening, their dialog also forms a sonnet.

Like most people here have mentioned, I never heard of the two terms either. I thought of the Hemmingwayesque minimalist writing as "Iowa School" and the other, the hypotaxis, as pre-Iowa School, and post Run Tip Run.

There are lots of ways to play around with para and hypo taxis to create rhythm and pacing, establish characterization and mood. When it gets combined with word and syntax choices it can be really fun. English has some structures that are more Germanic and some that are more Latin. For instance, if you attend carefully to the Latin structures then every preposition is going to have its object. However, if you attend more to the Germanic you will have a verb followed by a preposition and no object because we tend to think of the preposition as being part of the verb.
Latin: Jump in the pool.
Germanic: Jump in.
Latin: Stay out of my house.
Germanic: Stay out.
These produce different emotional effects.

Then there's onomatopoeia and alliteration to play with too. So yes, craft is lots of fun to discuss, to do, and to think about while discussing and while doing.

Thanks for supporting my art.
Cynthia Joyce Clay | Cynthia Joyce Clay's Blog | Plays I've Filmed | Cynthia Joyce Clay's Blog