He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

The Blog

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    Here are 65 examples of long sentences ranging from the relatively brief 96 words to one of the longest sentences at 2,156 words. Almost all of the really long sentences are under 1,000 words. The six longest sentences (1,000+ words) are mostly a curiosity, just to see what is possible. Related posts: 9 Ways to Write Brilliant Short […]

    August 18, 2021

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    I love good sentences. I really do. The best sentences are ones that show off brilliance without being show-offy. They pulse with the vitality of language and they aren’t any longer than they need to be. Related posts: 9 Ways to Write Brilliant Short Sentences 16 Ways to Write Sentences that Dazzle

    August 18, 2021

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    These 20 love sentences are not only true, they are also beautiful. I’ve taken all of them from writers of literature, modern ones writing in the last 40 years. This is your final warning: these love sentences are powerful. Don’t blame me if you need a Costco-sized tissue box. Related posts: 9 Ways to Write […]

    August 18, 2021

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  • 17 Fantastic Repetition Examples in Literature image of tag icon

    The governing wisdom about writing sentences says not to repeat. Repetition is bad. Repetition is sloppy. Writers are encouraged to consult a thesaurus and change up that pesky offending word. But is this really true?Literature is full of repetition. Literary writers constantly use the literary device of repeated words. I think the only type of […]

    August 18, 2021

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  • 100 Beautiful Sentences in Literature image of tag icon

    How do you pick the most beautiful sentences in literature? Are beautiful sentences full of nice turns of phrase? Or are beautiful sentences full of wisdom? Must beautiful sentences be full of risk and ambition, or can they be subtle and simple? Must beautiful sentences make you feel something? Related posts: 9 Ways to Write Brilliant Short Sentences 16 Ways to […]

    August 18, 2021

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  • 16 Ways to Write Sentences that Dazzle image of tag icon

    How should you write a sentence? Well, most guides will start off with 10,000 ways NOT to write a sentence. You know, the finger-wagging schoolmarm that lectures you about avoiding fragments and comma splices and run-ons. Related posts: 9 Ways to Write Brilliant Short Sentences 100 Beautiful Sentences in Literature

    July 8, 2020

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  • 9 Ways to Write Brilliant Short Sentences image of tag icon

    I love short sentences. I really do. In any book filled with a series of long, expansive sentences, a short sentence arrives like a gift. Short sentences rarely have the ambiguity or mystery of a long sentence. They rarely have twists or swerves or switchbacks, because that requires the length of a longer sentence. They rarely win your admiration for […]

    July 16, 2015

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  • How to Write Long Sentences image of tag icon

    In the latest issue of GQ, Boris Kachka tries to review Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue in one sentence. The justification for this is somewhat weak — he cites Jonathan Franzen for having a ‘long’ sentence in Freedom (wait: 307 words doesn’t really count as “long”) and the fact that Chabon himself tries a 12 page […]

    August 26, 2012

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