Tag Archives: Robert Louis Stevenson

Are You Long-Winded?

If your long or descriptive sentences are anything like Stevenson’s, I’ll gladly read every last word of ’em!

SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow–a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, Chapter I (at Project Gutenberg)

The first sentence of the story has 90 words, and the second one, a description, has 62. They are both perfectly readable.

Don’t worry about how long or descriptive your sentences are, just as long as the grammar is good and every word counts!

N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945), All day he hung round the cove, or upon the cliffs, with a brass telescope, 1911, oil on canvas, collection of the Brandywine River Museum of Art.



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Mystery Solved! Riddle of Writing Well in the First Person Revealed!

IRISH FIREBRANDS: A Novel ~ and Other Works by Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

IrishFirebrands is my only finished novel, and it’s written in a limited third person point of view. In its sequel, work-in-progress OnceBurnt, TwiceBlind, the first and last chapters are the only attempts I’ve made to write fiction in the first person, and I’m not sure they’ll stay that way. This is in spite of the fact that some of my favorite stories are told in the first person; however, those books were written a long time ago. An excellent example is TreasureIsland.

treasure island coverThe audiobook I grew up with: Absolutely the best reading ever done.

Most of the new generation of first-person narratives I’ve sampled have been disappointing. The awkward writing in those books includes narrator self-description, multiple head-hopping, and an excess of “telling” and data-dumping: evidence that the limitations of the first person point of view were too difficult for the writer to work around. I believe…

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Robert Louis Stevenson: A 19th-Century Mind on a 21st-Century Matter.

IRISH FIREBRANDS: A Novel ~ and Other Works by Christine Plouvier, Indie Author

Robert-louis-stevensonBy happy coincidence, research led me to discover Stevenson’s Essays in the Art of Writing, opening the mind of a favorite author as never before. Quoted below is his first argument in this essay, as he weighs in on a topic that seems to be just as relevant today, when Indie Authors struggle to keep their coracles of written Art afloat and headed in the right direction on the high seas of publishing.


The profession of letters has been lately debated in the public prints; and it has been debated, to put the matter mildly, from a point of view that was calculated to surprise high-minded men, and bring a general contempt on books and reading. Some time ago, in particular, a lively, pleasant, popular writer devoted an essay, lively and pleasant like himself, to a very encouraging view of the profession. We may be glad…

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