They were taut-torsoed men…

Word count: 237 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing 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 Will Ferguson…

I wrote yesterday about the political-psychological thriller 419 by Will Ferguson, describing a simile he’d used that I really admired. Today, I continue on my Ferguson love-fest by awarding him my prize for sentence-of-the-week.

Here it is:

They were taut-torsoed men, shirtless for the most part and steaming with sweat. 

This 13-word sentence caused me to stop reading the novel and take the time to write it down. Why? I seldom think to use alliteration in my own writing, but Ferguson doesn’t pass up such an opportunity. Taut-torsoed trips off the tongue. (There! I expanded on his range.)

As well, I love the way he uses the word “steaming” to describe sweat. It makes me think of horses, which, perhaps, was the extended image he was trying to evoke.

Finally, the rhythm of the sentence strikes me as practically perfect. Divided into the three parts, it offers three bundles of short, sharp syllables — six (They were taut-torsoed men), six (shirtless for the most part), and five (and steaming with sweat.) To my ear, it’s like poetry.

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