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Which Danny?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

“A comma is softer, where a full stop is harder, a bit more of a punch. Yes, Danny?”

“Which Danny? ...Me, Danny?”

“You, Danny.”

“Softer is better?”

“Depends what you’re doing. Sometimes, you want harder.”

“So I could say; Purity, serenity, simplicity, seclusion. Which would suggest a soft flow, a rhythm?”

“Yes or..”

“..Or I could write. Purity. Serenity. Simplicity. Seclusion. Which would suggest clearly defined, separate concepts, statements perhaps.”

“Exactly, but, remember both have rhythm, just different rhythm. Your subject will dictate to a large extent which rhythm, which punctuation is right for you. The more you use it, the more confident you will become, the longer the sentences, for example, you can throw at your reader and expect them to keep you company.”

“Is that important?”

“Oh, very, if you start with sentences that are too long, you risk losing your reader before you’ve hooked them. Long sentences can work, but they must drag the reader in and hold them. We live in a world of sound bites, flash fiction, fast food; life is fast and furious. Your reader wants results. If you don’t deliver they opt-out. They have a choice and limited time to spend. Your words compete with the slickest, TV, radio, phone apps, newspapers, books, magazines, podcasts, you’ve got to fight, fight for your place before them. Keep those eyes glued to your page. Make it, so they HAVE to turn the page. HAVE to know. Like their very life depends on it. We have one advantage; we can co-opt the reader’s imagination to colour in the worlds we create, and that world will be more real, more vivid, for the reader than any Hollywood blockbuster because it is tailored just for them. If that is, we do our job right, because our story is coloured with their experiences, places and people. We are svengalis; this is mind control, mind manipulation, mind-bending of the highest order; in short, modern magic. Using black print on the white page, we make the reader feel, experience and think. Movies get cut; they have to fit a runtime; they have to fit budgets; they are compromised. Our words fly free.”


361 words

[This piece was written for our lecture on rhythm in our writing. I used some of the content we learned in the lecture to create a piece with rhythm.]

This definitely fits the brief, Andrew, and it works very well! It's very original, very meta, very engaging. The dialogue is excellent - you captured the flavour of the class, while also making the content I believe it was Robert Mckee who said that dialogue should capture the essence of normal speech while being far more eloquent than most of us are - tick, tick! You've used rhythm to great effect to enhance the impact of the piece. It builds with lovely staccato sentences, then longer ones with the introduction of the subject of rhythm, then that fabulous monologue which alternates sentence length in such a way that it's rather like a song - content too is far above average and very eloquent. Indeed, I might steal it for my lecture notes! You've also made me laugh, for which you get bonus points ;)
Feedback from Menna van Praag - author and lecturer @Cambridge Uni.

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