How to develope sentences in the style of David Foster Wallace (visit Jason’s post to see an example of how powerful this can be for prose):

  1. Begin with an idea, a string of ideas.
  2. Use them in a compound sentence.
  3. Add rhythm with a dependent clause.
  4. Elaborate using a complete sentence as interrupting modifier.
  5. Append an absolute construction or two.
  6. Paralell-o-rize your structure (turn one noun into two).

STOP HERE IF YOU ARE A MINIMALIST, WRITING COACH, OR JAMES WOOD

  1. Adjectival phrases: lots of them. (Note: apprx. 50% will include the word ‘little’).
  2. Throw in an adverb or two (never more than one third the number of adjectives).
  3. Elaboration — mostly unnecessary. Here you’ll turn nouns phrases into longer noun phrases; verbs phrases into longer verb phrases. This is largely a matter of synonyms and prepositions. Don’t be afraid to be vague! Ideally, these elaborations will contribute to voice — for example, ‘had a hand in’ is longer than ‘helped’, but still kinda voice-y — but that’s just gravy. The goal here is word count.

STOP HERE IF YOU ARE NOT WRITING PARODY

  1. Give it that Wallace shine. Replace common words with their oddly specific, scientific-y counterparts. (Ex: ‘curved fingers’ into ‘falcate digits’). If you can turn a noun into a brand name, do it. (Ex: ‘shoes’ into ‘Hush Puppies,’ ‘camera’ into ‘Bolex’). Finally, go crazy with the possessives. Who wants a tripod when they could have a ‘tunnel’s locked lab’s tripod’? Ahem.
  2. Practice. Take one sentence — any sentence — and Wallacize it. Turn ten boring words into a hundred good ones.

I suppose you could say that this technique is almost the antithesis of William Zinsser’s style.