The Great Faulkner Sentence Challenge

claudette young


By Claudette Young


In today’s world of instant communication and books that roll across a phone’s screen, the art of using words, phrases and clauses seems to have fallen by the wayside. Readers want something they can zip through in less than a few hours, with sentences rarely over fifteen words in length. We’ve lost the ability to think and write in complex, nuance-heavy sentences, like those of William Faulkner and others of his era.

In case you didn’t know or haven’t read him, a perfect description of his technique expressed it this way.  ‘ … The Faulknerian sentence is an irresistible labyrinth.” His lengthiest sentence ran for 1,288 words in Absalom, Absalom. This was later surpassed by Jonathan Coe in 2001 with a sentence that took 33 pages to print.

Faulkner wasn’t alone. The greats of yesteryear all wrote involuted, complex sentences meant to mesmerize the reader, pulling them into the story and refusing to let them go.

Now’s your chance to test your skills against the greats. For the month of March, The Great Faulkner Sentence Challenge will accept entries by any writer brave enough to tackle the challenge of writing the perfect (or not) lengthy sentence.

NOTE: While I, as organizer, will throw in my own sentences on occasion, I am not competing. I’m just playing along for fun. 

We will have a judge (as yet to be announced).


  1. Any sentence, any subject: must be minimum of fifty (50) words
  2. All sentences must be grammatically correct and not simply run-ons
  3. No maximum word count to sentences
  4. Have fun and play with your words. The sentences can be as fanciful as the writer wishes, or as outrageous, etc. so long as they are coherent and grammatically correct.

Be prepared to up your game, but the most important aspect of this challenge is to express your thoughts, use plenty of phrases and clauses, and challenge others to do their best.

There will be small prizes for top placers. Grand Prize: Writer’s journal Book: First Prize: Book on Grammar; Second and Third Prizes: Decorative Bookmarks

The Challenge will run until April 1st, and prizes will be announced by Tax Day in April and sent out immediately thereafter.

To play, send your entries beginning March 1st to the Facebook page Great Faulkner Sentence Challenge. All writers are welcome and encouraged to participate. Win or lose, everyone will get the chance to stretch their use of words and their understanding of language.

Here’s hoping many will enter, for both the experience of playing with long sentences and to see how others approach the challenge.

Good luck to all who play.



Karen's author photo apr 2019


By Karen Wills


Reading the letters, I came to understand just how difficult the long hardships and separations caused by WWII really were. Dad, a teacher, became a gunnery officer on a ship in the South Pacific. Mom stayed on the Big West Oilfield with her parents in their little house. My grandparents had one bedroom, while Mom and my two-year-old brother and eventually, I, shared the other.

The letters reveal little running jokes, stories about new and old friends, and earnest concerns of a young couple managing ration books and occasional train trips to be together on a shoestring budget. Their longing and loneliness come through. Here’s Dad:

Dearest One,

       I “writ” you one letter today. What am I doing writing again? Could it be love?

Mom wrote of how brokenhearted she felt after seeing him off at the Shelby Depot after his too-brief leave. She held up until, at the café, someone put the song “Together” on the jukebox.

They weathered the war and their years apart. All of it became part of our family lore. Their letters, though, were their story alone. Here’s a piece of Dad’s last letter before coming home:

     “Well, Honey, we have written a lot of letters, haven’t we? Your letters helped out immeasurably. You have been grand throughout this whole business, Sweetheart, and I can hardly wait to get back with you, and I hope to God that we won’t have to be separated again.”

karens letters blog


  They never were.
Originally published February 14, 2014

A Tiny Love Story – I Didn’t Run

sue purvis nyc



By Sue Purvis author of Go Find


I met David on a blind date. The next day, I invited him over for tea. He appeared on my porch, peeking through the glass, offering me his cupped palms. “It’s all yours,” he said.

“What? Sweaty hands?”

“No.” He beamed. “My heart.”

Typically, this would make me run, but I didn’t.

He had picked me to hold his heart.

His body was ravaged with cancer, but still, I accepted.

sues tiny love story pic



We laughed. We cried. We married.



Twenty-two months after our eyes met, I stood at the river, cupping my palms with ashes, and let go.

Originally published New York Times December  10, 2019

February Book News


I ❤️ February! For lots of reasons: special birthdays, Valentine’s Day, it’s short and sweet and chocolate is usually involved… plus JANUARY IS OVER! Woo hoo.

This winter I’m trying a new book strategy. I’m an independent writer so I can basically do whatever, right? Well, the pressure is on, always, to publish. Publish or perish, as the academics say. So to keep things lively I decided to take a secondary character out of my Bennett Sisters Mystery series and do a trilogy of novellas about him. He is a popular character, the love interest of the main sister, Merle. Pascal d’Onscon investigates wine fraud for the Police Nationale in France. The three novellas, or short parts of one whole, start out dealing with a scam label on a bottle of wine. It’s supposed to be from a champagne-only vintner but it is not bubbly, it is flat. DEAD FLAT, you could say.

So that gets the party started in the department of Champagne, in northeastern France. Much of the series takes place either in Paris or in the Dordogne region, but this trilogy moves around, from Champagne, to the Dordogne, to Brittany, and back to Champagne. We learn about Pascal’s two sisters (so many sisters!) who live far apart. And more about wine and champagne as that’s Pascal’s business.

Part One of DEAD FLAT came out in December. Part Two was released in mid-January, and the final part, three, publishes in late February. All are on Amazon.

Happy  February!

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: All mysteriesI’m with Lise in celebrating the joys of February. The light is growing stronger every day, which makes our little hearts so happy! If you’re in western Montana and you get happy meeting authors, come visit with me at the North Valley Public Library in Stevensville, at 11 am on Saturday, February 8. We’ll be chatting about mysteries and much more, and yes, of course, I’ll have books with me to refresh your rapidly-dwindling TBR pile!

Come chat — I love meeting readers, and a Saturday morning visit will help make February scurry by!