Words only have meaning in the context of sentences. This basic insight, which Wittgenstein learned from Frege, is at the root of developing your style. You are trying to find a way of putting words together to give them the sense you want to express. I want to devote the month of March to sentences, to the elementary act of giving words meaning.
This is a sentence. Take a close look at it. If I had written "This is a hat" you would have expected to see it under a picture. Or, suppose we add just the word "harsh": "This is a harsh sentence." The concept of a "harsh sentence" is rarely applied to writing; we generally find it in discussions of criminal cases, where the sentence is determined after a judgment is made. In legal contexts, sentences mete out punishments. So we would now expect a sentence preceding the sentence (about the sentence) to state the terms of a sentence. Something like:
He has been given five years without any chance of parole. This is a harsh sentence.
Compare the following:
Near the end of Smith's beautiful story there is a parting that ends with the following words: "You are not welcome here and your dog is not welcome here and your wife neither." This is a harsh sentence, perhaps the only harsh words spoken in the entire story. It is also the first and only time Jack opens his mouth to speak. The effect is therefore all the more dramatic.
I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this yet. But I need something to focus our attention on style and grammar. More on Wednesday.