Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Worst Sentence Ever

OK, maybe it's not the worst sentence ever, but it certainly deserves an honorable mention. Here it is: "Big Jim's dad's hired man's flashlight was shining right square on it, and I got my first glimpse of a wild coon when it is scared and mad at the same time."

It's mainly the first part of the sentence that is bad. Why can't "Big Jim's dad's hired man" have a name? Throughout this book he never gets a name! It's always, "Big Jim's dad's hired man" or "Big Jim's dad's hired hand." Can I call him Fred? Then the worst sentence ever could be improved: "Fred's flashlight was shining right square on it ..."

The sentence, by the way, is found in the 1943 book Mystery at Sugar Creek.

I hereby offer a lament for bad sentences. Let us instead strive for simplicity, elegance, and clarity in all writing.


Ken said...

Did you know that "It was a dark and stormy night." is the actual first line of A Wrinkle in Time? And that one won the Newbery Award!

Robert Velarde said...

I also like, "The night was," which is the famous opening line to the book being written by Billy Crystal in the movie, Throw Momma From the Train. The movie, by the way, has some very funny moments that writers can relate to. And Crystal's character uses a typewriter!