How do you write a scene that is jam-packed with suspense? Do you just write thrilling scenes using short sentences? You might ask yourself, what could be an effective way of writing those kinds of scenes? It’s simple – you use periodic sentences.
A periodic sentence is a sentence wherein the main point of the sentence is placed at the end part of the sentence. Basically, the main clause is found at the last part of the sentence.
Periodic sentences are useful in writing scenes that are suspenseful because it builds up suspense. They are more persuasive than the usual and normal way of writing sentences because it lets the writer adds plot layers before drawing the conclusion. You may also see compound sentences.
Examples of Periodic Sentences
Despite the humidity and the sun’s scorching heat, the couple continued jogging until 12 noon.
1. With two deep wounds on my arms and a couple of sprains and strains here and there, I was still determined to continue moving on the trek by crawling. You may also see declarative sentences.
2. When she had set her heart on not to fall in love this year, she already found a new boyfriend on the very first day of new year.
3. Encouraged by that sole person who spoke up against the issue, the rest of the people affected also began to speak up one by one. You may also see preposition sentences.
4. Drowned in his thoughts, thinking about all the memories they spent the whole night, he still longed for her to come back even though it was no longer possible. You may also see exclamatory sentences.
5. If you look at Medusa, you will be turned into stone forever.
Examples of Periodic Sentences in Literature
Literature is abundant of periodic sentences because it makes the narrative more effective. Here are some examples of periodic sentences found in literature.
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self-Reliance
“In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.” – Frank Herbert in Dune
“In the almost incredibly brief time which it took the small but sturdy porter to roll a milk-can across the platform and bump it, with a clang, against other milk-cans similarly treated a moment before, Ashe fell in love.” – P.G. Wodehouse, Something Fresh (1915)
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841)
“In the loveliest town of all, where the houses were white and high and the elms trees were green and higher than the houses, where the front yards were wide and pleasant and the back yards were bushy and worth finding out about, where the streets sloped down to the stream and the stream flowed quietly under the bridge, where the lawns ended in orchards and the orchards ended in fields and the fields ended in pastures and the pastures climbed the hill and disappeared over the top toward the wonderful wide sky, in this loveliest of all towns Stuart stopped to get a drink of sarsaparilla.” – E.B. White, Stuart Little (1945)
“Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.” – Truman Capote, In Cold Blood, 1966
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” – The King James Bible (I Corinthians 13)
“In the entrances of office blocks, just outside the revolving doors, on the fake marble steps (behind which can be glimpsed internal security personnel, pompous desks, escalators, hanging Jim Dine torsos) are these suits. Women in suits. Slightly shifty blokes. Insiders, badge-wearers, forced to taste the weather, to step outside–because they want to, have to, smoke.” – Iain Sinclair, Lights Out for the Territory (1997). You may also see interrogative sentences.
“Democracy is that system of government under which people, having 60,000,000 native-born adults to choose from, including thousands who are handsome and many who are wise, pick out a Coolidge to be head of state. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet prepared by master cooks and covering a table an acre in area, should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies.” – H. L. Mencken, The Comedian
“Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English, and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed.” – Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales (1955)
“And even in the old days, in the days when he was ‘British,’ in the lovely twenties and thirties when he lived in Great Russell Street, when he was acquainted with Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, and H. G. Wells and loved ‘British’ views, before the great squeeze, the human physics of the war, with its volumes, its vacuums, its voids (that period of dynamics and direct action upon the individual, comparable biologically to birth), he had never much trusted his judgment where Germans were concerned.” – Saul Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970)
“Out of the bosom of the Air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garment shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent and soft, and slow, Descends the snow.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Snowflakes
“Halfway between West Egg and New York City sprawls a desolate plain, a gray valley where New York’s ashes are dumped” – Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby
“Unprovided with original learning, uninformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved— to write a book.” – Edward Gibbon in Memoirs of My Life
We hope you have learned more about periodic sentences and will be using it more often in your compositions. You may also see imperative sentences.