05 08

How to write a 400 word sentence

how to write a 400 word sentence

The prompt: A sentence with 100 words. Begin with a simple sentence, then add details, descriptions and modifiers to create a complex, detailed sentence.

The purpose of the prompt was an exercise in exploring sentence patterns and sentence lengths, based upon a presentation at Be Writing Conference in Eugene, Oregon, recently.

We often write consistent patterns. All short sentences. All long sentences. All noun, verb, object, noun, verb, object. Break the pattern by learning to write different types of sentences and sentence structures.

Exploring the Cumulative Sentence

A cumulative sentence begins with a base clause, a subject and verb and an object or just a subject and verb.

The woman sat down to write.
The woman fainted.
The man drove his car.
The child ran down the street.
The bird flew into the window.
She played the piano.
Uncle Edward leaned back in his recliner.
Her grandchild slipped on the ice.

A cumulative sentence adds the description of the action.

Here is an example by Muriel Spark in Memento Mori.

He went to speak to Mrs. Bean, tiny among the pillows, her small toothless mouth ppen like an “O,” her skin stretched thin and white over her bones, her huge eye-sockets and eyes in a fixed infant-like stare, and her sparse white hair short and straggling over her brow.

Add description of things that modify the subject. They clarify the character and move us into an emotional situation. We need the modifiers to describe the person, and their relationship. How does the character see the other person, the scene, the situation. What they see tells us more about the character as they interpret the scene.

Here is another example from William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning”

His father struck him with the flat of his hand on the side of the head, hard but without heat, exactly as he had struck the two mules at the store, exactly as he would strike either of them with any stick in order to kill a horse fly, his voice still without heat or anger.

We see the action of the hand striking the head, and we could assume many different emotions, justifications, and reactions, but the modification of the action implies the emotionless nature of the action, and reveals much about the character of the father, that he treats his animals and children equally.

In the following example in Dan Delillo’s “The Names” (Russian to English translation), he describes the wind as a character itself, and how essential the wind is to the story, mood of the story, and the life of the people in the story.

Some nights the wind never stops, beginning in a clean shrill pitch that broadens and deepens to a careless and suspenseful force, rattling shutters, knocking things off the balconies, creating a pause in one’s mind, a waiting-for-the-full-force-to-hit. Inside the apartment, closet doors swing open, creak shut.

Consider how the sentence travels? Does it incorporate backstory, create emotion, rhythm, pace. Sometimes the force of a sentence’s pattern and rhythm takes you to an intense place or state of emotion. This is very useful to moving the story forward and pulling the reader along, consuming each word, eager for the next, feeling what the character is feeling.

Use a cumulative sentence pattern as you wish, or not, in your writing, but learn how to recognize them and work with them. They can break up your short sentence pattern, add more to the story, and describe a moment to bring the reader there with you and the character.

This prompt is meant to explore the boundaries of how we normally write.

The Prompt

The prompt assignment:

Write a modifying cumulative sentence. Start with a noun, verb, and object, then modify it to a minimum 75 to 100 words [pick one].

An alternative for those handwriting and not willing to count, write at least 10 lines handwritten on typical school notebook paper.

This typically takes about 10-15 minutes – most of us write 400 to 600 words in our prompts, some more.


Like this:

Like Loading...


About Tips. Writing - Words 300 Words Writing 300

how to write a 400 word sentence Write at least 400 words on a topic of your choice.


  1. Yeyotomaxope

    You not allowed to talk about animal abuse anymore unless you a minority or you"ve paid the black reparation gofund me 400, 000£

  2. Fepatof

    STATE TRACK: Girls 4 x 400 Meter Relay ( Hampe, Carver, Bakker, Widlowski ) finish 19th with a time of 4:13.84

  3. Sutelepi

    My first ever twitter spat was when I called her a posh Katie Hopkins, needless to say, she took umbrage

  4. Puvohoxuxo

    Help us buy our own home rcid=r01-149522102804-dab47cb592204732 please help we need $400 more to move closer to the top for a better chance to get help

  5. Qoduforir

    That"s not actually a denial, that"s a deflection. Care to state categorically that is not one of the sources?

  6. Liforoyoco

    Get u a LTF nigga we lit on 4 nem

  7. Hovixinor

    B. Horner finished 5th in her heat and 15th overall in the 400 M dash with a time of 60.96 seconds at the State Track and Field Meet!

  8. Wopiyaceyepeva

    Sure it wasn"t a 400 lb. dude in his mom"s basement? Or the Chinese?

  9. Begiworolicabu

    Trying to push my 400+ pound motorcycle into the bed of my truck on this hot ass 85 degree weather is a god damn bitch

  10. Pebonugan

    Had a girl the whole time crazy

  11. Yomedotupobo

    The rest of the day is going to be blown on this. It"ll be like a timelapse of a mushroom field. Staggering if true. 400 journos on trip.

  12. Qetebewo

    Enter to win a $400 shopping spree from BelleBella™ Boutique at

  13. Webononazibe

    TSPG Security Details Share Structure Market Value1 $666, 014 a/o May 18, 2017 Authorized Shares 2, 400, 000, 000

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>