What I Was Reading
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu explores the aftermath of a tragedy shared by a group of girls on a canoe trip at summer camp. It traces the threads of the experience and its impact on each of the girls—Nita, Andie, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan—through their teens and into adulthood.
The novel opens with a scene from camp, in 1994, with the campers on the dock singing the official camp song:
“They stood straight-backed and solemn-faced as soldiers in formation, even the ones who itched to squirm, to collapse into their natural posture, who were rolling their toes in their shoes and humming to themselves, squeezing their lips in their fingers to suppress a bubble of nervous laughter.”
What Moves I Notice the Writer Making
* I was immediately impressed by the complexity of this sentence and how, thanks to the skillful use of hyphens and commas, Kim Fu managed to pack so much detail into it.
* The pair of compound adjectives, “straight-backed and solemn-faced,” combined with the simile comparing the girls to soldiers in formation adds efficiency and precision to the description of the girls.
* The rest of the sentence, marked by the use of “even the ones…,” describes the girls who are struggling to stifle laughter and the careful organization of the details makes what might have been two or three separate sentences flow perfectly as one. The details are organized into a series of phrases and the use of repetition helps me as a reader link the individual phrases together and see the description as a whole: to squirm and to collapse, who itched and who were rolling, humming and squeezing.
Possibilities for Writers
* Read this sentence as a writer to notice and name other interesting craft moves and discuss how they impact you as a reader.
* Use this sentence as a model to write one of your own, trying out some of the same moves Kim Fu has used.
* Revisit a draft in your notebook and find a series of short sentences that can be combined into a single sentence using commas.
* Be on the look-out for other interesting sentence structures in your reading.