Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft : The Great Courses: Writing

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Brooks Landon
  • Series: The Great Courses: Writing
  • 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Why do some lengthy sentences flow effortlessly while others stumble along? Why are you captivated by the writing of particular authors? How can you craft sentences that reflect your unique outlook on the world?
This lively, 24-lecture course introduces you to the myriad ways in which we think about, talk about, and write sentences. Reviving the sentence-oriented approach to studying writing, Professor Landon provides a greater context for what makes sentences great - and how you can apply these methods to your own writing.
You'll look at the kernels from which sentences grow - minimal base clauses - and how adding words or phrases creates larger, cumulative sentences that lead toward great writing. You'll explore sentence constructions that make writing more complex and add exciting levels of suspense, and see tactics that create balance and rhythm.Recognizing and appreciating these and other eye-opening aspects of sentences helps you understand the work that goes into creating an effective, pleasurable sentence, which can make you more aware of why particular lines, passages, or phrases in the poems, novels, or articles you read so enchant you.
Professor Landon draws abundantly on examples from the work of brilliant writers, including Don DeLillo, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Johnson, and more. With its passionate approach to writing and reading and its indulgence in the sheer joy of language, this journey gives you unique insights into the nature of great writing-and also teaches you how you can achieve some of this greatness yourself.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very well presented... but with poor pronunciation

What made the experience of listening to Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed the presentation of the information in easily absorbed 30+ minute chapters, Mr Landon has a wonderful presence and effectively introduces the subject matter with humor and intelligent simplicity.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft?

By breaking down, and then rebuilding well known and well written sentences, it allows you to perceive the structures involved, giving it the sense that I too could someday write!


Any additional comments?

The only problem concerning this lecture, is the man needs tutoring on pronunciation. Listening to him say 'senences' instead of 'sentences' repeatedly, put my teeth on edge. This was the subject of the ENTIRE lecture, and he couldn't find the 'T' within the word! Once you have latched onto such a glaring mispronunciation, you discover yourself finding more, especially when the word 'senence' is used well over a thousand times during the lecture. I understand there are many out there who will consider this nit-picking to the extreme, and many will have not even noticed, but imagine reading a book where all of the 'r's' have been omitted, it is not that much different.
A means to purchase the notes mentioned would be nice as well.

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- Cynthia

Building better SENNENCES

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Brooks Landon?

Yes -- have bought several and will buy more.


How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I think another reader of the professor's material -- one with a more subtly nuanced and inflected voice, without the Texan (or whatever it is) trouble with consonants and torturing of vowels, might be better. As it is, I am now using it to get me off to sleep at night (being a bit of an insomniac). I am hoping for subliminal learning! There was a VERY long-winded introduction that stated a lot of very obvious things. Examples are multiplied ad nauseam - so the good prof. reels off long strings of restatements and so on, and so on .... The words tend to merge into a mass of ... well, 'sennences'. There are no clear pauses and it becomes quite hard to listen to him to extract the meaning. These 'sennences' are often very long and convoluted -- better suited to the written word. For example he reads a sennence then says the proposition "might have been implied or acknowledged by writing this sennence in a number of different ways ... [he then reads off what seems like 20 variants of the same sentences, each with slightly different propositions] -- yeah, OK, OK, we get it."

The underlying work (Port Royal Grammar, Chomsky, historical snippets etc) is really interesting but don't get much air time.


What three words best describe Professor Brooks Landon’s performance?

tedious soporific sennences


Was Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft worth the listening time?

Not sure yet -- still getting through it. Better as a book to read, perhaps. Especially all the readings of sentence variant after sentence variant. When you are READING, you skip over these at faster speed, just getting the gist. Here you have to sit there while he reads every one out to you.


Any additional comments?

I suppose 'Dubbya' for W, 'sennences' for sentences, 'idennifying' for identifying, and the rest are just regional dialects in the US, and thus seen as OK, but to an outsider they sound illiterate, or irritating at best, because the diction is not precise. This is exacerbated by the fact that precision in WRITTEN language is the goal of the course. I am not calling fore British Received Pronunciation, you understand -- just that this imprecise-sounding dialect is a pity in a book about writing. If it doesn't bother you, fine. But if hearing the word "sennence" makes you want to slit your wrists after about the tenth time, be warned, there are about 63,000 of them. OMG! In Part 1 Chapter 3 at somewhere around 1:30.00 he says SENTENCE very clearly! With a T! There might be hope.

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- Doubting Tim "Tim"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses