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Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 40 Use Periodic Sentences to Create Suspense and Emphasis

by Peggy Urry

Week 40 means there are only twelve lessons left. Only eleven more Mondays until 2016. Gah! Is it really mid-October? Yes, yes it is. Enough on that... 

Wilbers says, "In the old days [of writing], we would have been taught some two hundred schemes and tropes--schemes are structural patterns such as inversion and antithesis, and tropes are figures of speech such as metaphor."1

Theoretically, anyone can write a great and memorable sentence, but if you understand the type of sentence you're writing and how it works, your chances are much greater.

Parallel sentences (discussed in Week 39) create a pleasing rhythm through repetition of similar elements. An antithetical sentence (Week 25) "is a balanced sentence with contrary statements."2

Loose and periodic sentences mirror each other.

Loose sentences have a main clause followed by a series of parallel elements: "She peered into the dark room, fearing for her life, listening for the slightest sound, wondering if the murderer lurked within."2

The periodic sentence switches it up with the parallel elements first and the main clause following: "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine." Dramatic delay creates effect.2

Use the loose sentence option when you want to keep things relaxed. When you want to tighten the screws, go for suspense, drag out the drama, your go-to structure is the periodic sentence.

This is a great chapter to read and re-read.

1 Wilbers, Stephen, Mastering the Craft of Writing, pg 222
2 Wilbers, Stephen, Mastering the Craft of Writing, pg 223


  1. Love it! And I don't know how you manage it but this post seems so fitting for the month of Halloween!

  2. So funny, I thought the same thing.