Will have you praying for an early frost…

Word count: 244 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Anthony Lane.

Billed as an “unconventional coming of age story,” the movie The Kings of Summer, is not one I’d heard of. At least not until I read a review by Anthony Lane in the June 3/13 New Yorker. (The review is “locked” to non-subscribers but you can read a shortened version here.)

The movie tells the story of three boys, living in a small Ohio town, who build a house from scratch in a clearing in the woods. It sounds like a fun and entertaining summer flick, although it’s a bit too long for Lane, at least. Here is his view of it:

It’s a great forty-minute film that has been stretched and spread like pizza dough to cover an hour and a half; the closeup of a teen-age male nuzzling the head of a flower, against the glow of sunset, will have you praying for an early frost.

I like power of his metaphors — comparing an overly long movie to pizza dough, for example — and his pointed tone — “praying for an early frost.” I also admire his careful word choice. “Nuzzling” is a terrific verb with great onomatopoeic overtones. And I like the way he understands how to use a semi-colon (each side of the semi-colon should be a compete sentence). Mostly, I advise writers to stay away from semi-colons but at least I can rest assured that New Yorker writers know how to use them correctly!

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