Correlative conjunctions how master writers use them as prose hooks

Correlative conjunctions how master writers use them as prose hooks
Correlative conjunctions how master writers use them as prose hooks
By choosing to start his long novel David Copperfield with the correlative conjunction ‘whether/or,’ Charles Dickens signals the readers that perhaps they should search for more than one hero in the story. What a startling beginning! Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. Because correlative conjunctions add clarity, crispness, and fluidity to the narrative, these pairs are quite transparent to the reader; they perform their function in an unobtrusive manner. Thus we can say that they don’t call attention to themselves; they snuggle up in the middle and no one gives them a second look:both . . . and either . . . or just as . . . so neither . . . nor not only . . . but also whether . . . or However, when they are chosen as sentence openers, they stir up the readers’ attention, making them wonder why they have been uprooted from the middle to the front. “Why has the furniture been rearranged?” they would ask. Laura Esquivel in her novel Like Water for Chocolate: Either her blouse had a wrinkle, or there wasn’t enough hot water, or her braid came out uneven-in short, it seemed Mama Elena’s genius was for finding fault (Esquivel 95). In his aesthetics treatise Art as Experience, note how John Dewey, the American philosopher, opens his sentences: Not only does the direct sense element –and emotion is a mode of sense– tend to absorb all ideational matter, but apart from special discipline enforced by physical apparatus, it subdues and digests all that is merely intellectual (30).Neither a world wholly obdurate and sullen in the face of man nor one so congenial to his wishes that it gratifies all desires is a world in which art can arise (339). Neither the savage nor the civilized man is what he is by native constitution but by the culture in which he participates (345). In seeing a drama, beholding a picture, or reading a novel, we may feel that the parts do not hang together. Either the maker had no experience that was emotionally toned, or although having at the outset a felt emotion, it was not sustained, and a succession of unrelated emotions dictated the work (69). And in the following example from the Vicar of Wakefield, the narrator by means of the pair –neither … nor– injects a flash forward to advance the story: Neither the fatigues and dangers he was going to encounter, nor the friends and mistress, for Miss Wilmot actually loved him, he was leaving behind, [in] any way damped his spirits (Goldsmith 134). And Laura Esquivel once again: Neither she nor Rosaura knew how to make them; when Tita died, her family’s past would die with her (Esquivel 179).Not only could she crack sack after sack of nuts in a short time, [but] she seemed to take great pleasure in doing it (231). Master writers exploit the mind’s expectation for closure. When in common speech we hear the expression, “Like waiting for the other shoe to fall,” we quickly grasp and agree that there’s an imminent expectation that perhaps bodes ill.It may not be necessarily so, but we can’t help to expect something nefarious. Racing ahead, the mind searches for answers, for reasons, for the completion of thoughts and actions. With these pithy words (correlative conjunctions), professional writers create hook sentences and hook paragraphs, giving their narrative a compelling narrative drive. Retired. Former investment banker, Columbia University-educated, Vietnam Vet (67-68). For the writing techniques I use, see Mary Duffy’s e-book: Sentence Openers.
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