What is a Beautiful Sentence?


Francine Prose in chapter 3 of Reading Like a Writer writes sentences about sentence. At one point, she says, “By now you may be asking: what is a beautiful sentence? The answer is that beauty, in a sentence, is ultimately as difficult to quantify or describe as beauty in a painting or a human face.”

Earlier she describes a writer telling his agent that all he cares about is writing sentences. His agent suggests he never tell that to an American publisher.

Do you write for sentences or for plot or something else? Perhaps this is why we have blogs, to write for sentences. What’s your take?

8 thoughts on “What is a Beautiful Sentence?

  1. New Hampshire Garden Solutions November 17, 2013 / 7:02 pm

    I usually just dump the contents of my mind on the page without thinking about it, and then go back and rearrange and clean it up. I’m not sure that I’ve ever written a beautiful sentence.
    Blog writing, at least with my kind of blog, is entirely different. I go to great lengths to give people the most accurate information I can, so there is no fooling around there.

    • fictionfitz November 18, 2013 / 4:47 am

      It is a good exercise and/or lesson in editing.

  2. Carole Webber November 17, 2013 / 8:22 pm

    I think you write a sentence to express a thought, If that thought evokes beauty or good responses then it ihas achieved its goal.
    I cannot define a sentence as beautiful

    • fictionfitz November 18, 2013 / 4:43 am

      Not a bad goal.

  3. SirenaTales November 18, 2013 / 7:45 pm

    Good question. I think I strive for beauty whenever possible, in writing and elsewhere. Sometimes the beauty may lie in a poetic turn of phrase or evocative vocabulary strung together skillfully. Others the beauty, for me, might derive from a clarity and succinctness. Thanks for the thought provoking inquiry.

    • fictionfitz November 19, 2013 / 5:09 am

      Good thing we can practice some on Twitter. Cuts dow my words.

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist November 19, 2013 / 7:44 am

    I too just dump the brain contents on the page. Literary writers like Tim Winton write beautiful sentences. I don’t think I ever will but I hope that I write well constructed sentences that paint a picture. Blogging certainly gives you practice and I hope increases the speed at which you can do it reasonably.

    • fictionfitz November 19, 2013 / 7:55 am

      I agree, the blogging I think is a good exercise and discipline for writers. And it offers an audience. I love an audience.

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