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Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft Lecture

Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft

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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Zachary L Weintraub 12-29-15
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    "30 minutes of material in 12 hours"
    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Brooks Landon’s performances?

    Professor Landon is seemingly unable to express ideas without also fully exploring every possible permutation that follows logically from his original proposition. Though this is occasionally useful, more often this strategy treats the listener as if he or she is incapable of making simple logical connections. Moreover, lover of long sentences as he may be, Professor Landon uses unnecessarily long sentences for his examples when short sentences would do just as well to illustrate his points. This is compounded when he repeats those sentences ad nauseum with only minor variations to illustrate other points.

    Add to this his issues with pronunciations detailed by other reviewers, his laughing at private moments of wit which are rarely as clever as he frames them to be, his clear personal interest in certain types of sentences, and his long digressions into topics wholly unrelated to the lecture material meant to illustrate a point that is itself unnecessary to convey the thrust of his lecture, and you get a nearly unlistenable series. Having made the commitment in time and audible credits, and being very interested in what is ostensibly covered by this series, I have suffered through 7 hours thus far, but I'm wondering more with each lecture if my time wouldn't be better spent cutting my losses and finding a better series.

    Needless to say, I will never be trying another of Professor Landon's performances.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft?

    Through 14 lectures, I believe there was been enough content to fill perhaps two 30-minute blocks. Probably a third of each lecture is filled with re-readings of sentences already given with minor variations. Cutting these sentences down by removing half of the unnecessary clauses would save no less than 5 minutes per session all on its own.

    The series is also filled with digressions that serve no purpose relevant to the material. One example that comes to mind, though there are many spread throughout, came when, in a lecture on the riddle of prose rhythm, Professor Landon discusses a song from the musical Roberta, explains that he continually misremembers the title/main lyric of the song "I Won't Dance, Don't Ask Me," talks about how Fred Astaire notably could dance and how his misremembering the lyrics perhaps relates to an episode from the Muppet Show with Ms. Piggy, how the original lyrics were rewritten once upon time, and that the rest of the lyrics in the song go on to discuss other reasons for the Astaire character to not dance. The purpose of this 2+ minute digression, as explained by Professor Landon, is simply to preface his statement that he himself can't dance, aside from shuffling around at bat mitzvahs and the like. Of course, this was also in purpose of explaining that, though he can't dance, he does have a good ear for rhythm in sentences.

    Now, if anyone believes that rhythm in dancing and rhythm in sentences are one and the same, a proposition that is fairly unlikely for an audience that seeks out a lecture series on exploring the writer's craft, Professor Landon could have dispelled that idea by simply stating "Rhythm in sentences and rhythm in dance are different," and perhaps giving some examples of how, without costing the listener 3 minutes of nonsense.

    Of course, at this point, the listener still has no actual information about what makes for a rhythmically pleasing or functional sentence. The rest of the lecture does little to change that. By the conclusion, all that I was able to ascertain is that the cumulative sentence tends to lead to pleasing rhythms, something that Professor Landon had already hammered on for the preceding twelve hours.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hedrick 12-20-15
    Hedrick 12-20-15
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    "Good info, bit dull"

    I wanted to try one of these educational series books. Had some good info but over all a very hard listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angel 11-23-14
    Angel 11-23-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Not worth buying"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Brooks Landon?

    I am a big fan of the great courses, but this one just sucks! The guys voice is super annoying. He doesn't pronounce his t's in the middle of the word sentences, which he says every 10 seconds. This is just a really poorly done course. I would recommend "How to Analyze and Write About Anything" by great courses, but not this one. She covers sentence structure in that course. This one is a waste.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Brooks Landon?

    Anybody but him. He can't pronounce his t's. That's really annoying for an audio book.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    No. I couldn't get through it. His voice was too annoying and the content is not practical. He just drones on and on and is completely off topic.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracey 12-12-13
    Tracey 12-12-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Easy to listen to."
    Would you listen to Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft again? Why?

    The professor obviously enjoys what he teaches and that comes through in his narration, making listening to these lectures enjoyable and easy to learn from.


    What does Professor Brooks Landon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His enthusiasm


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    richard 01-09-17
    richard 01-09-17 Member Since 2007
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    "how to write a long creative sennence"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Brooks Landon?

    probably not Prof Landon


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    I stopped listening after about 4 hrs when I concluded ( maybe prematurely) that the lectures were about 1 type of sentence - a compound sentence suited for creative writing. I probably didn't read the description closely enough. I was expecting to learn about different sentence structures for different occasions, common errors and how to avoid them- not this course.


    How could the performance have been better?

    he pronounces 'sentence' as sennence - enough said by others


    What character would you cut from Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft?

    about 8 hours


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cyber Sleuth 10-18-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Increased my awareness of sentence structures"
    If you could sum up Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft in three words, what would they be?

    This course has given a boost to my reports, allowing me to reduce conjunctions along with other unnecessary words, writing in prose style, loving every minute of it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alima 10-11-16
    Alima 10-11-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Particularly useful for non native speakers"
    What made the experience of listening to Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed both the contents and performance of Professor Landon's course. Partly because English is my second language, I found difficult to read fictions with complex sentences. I was told again and again to write short sentences, the style that often failed to lend my own voice to my writing. As Professor Landon said appreciating complex sentences would help one to read better, becoming a better reader and enjoying every word on the page. I would recommend this course to those struggling to read "difficult" books. Thank you.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Both contents and performance.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Brooks Landon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    What did you learn from Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft that you would use in your daily life?

    See above.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-09-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Game Changing Course"

    Of the many books I've read or listened to, this one had the most profound impact on my writing skills, my sense that I know what I'm doing, my control of the craft, my ability to evoke emotion in the reader. Thank you, Dr. Landon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerie K. Burgess 09-09-16 Member Since 2015

    I enjoy reading literary thought provoking novels, magical realism, and science fiction. I completed my MFA in 2012 and enjoy writing.

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    "The best Great Courses book I could have purchased"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft to be better than the print version?

    I say equal. The reasons do not pertain to one being better than the other. The reasons pertain to what each type offers that the other cannot. The experience of seeing the word versus hearing the word can have two separate types of fulfillment.


    What about Professor Brooks Landon’s performance did you like?

    Excellent


    What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

    That the concept of sentences needing to be short and blunt is not what a reader wants is not true. The question as to "why and how" writing has come to this, is answered and there really is no sound basis for it. The reader looses more than gains when a story is written with short, brief, choppy, sentences throughout the story. That we as readers and writers have lost the elegance and beauty of sentences by doing this. Building out a sentence offers so much more in the way of helping the reader to experience the story, character, and scene fully.


    Any additional comments?

    So worth the purchase.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross Ferg 08-31-16
    Ross Ferg 08-31-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Brooks is awesome"

    this dude is a little boring no doubt, but he will bring out your best writing, he will take you to the next level, and your writing with fly, and higher if you have cannabis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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