Sentence No Nos


by Valerie Allen

Good writing not only exemplifies what we should do, but what we should not do. Several common problems that lead to poor writing and should be avoided are the use of FANBOYS and weak verbs. Additionally, improper use of the verb “to be,” often leads to confusion for the reader.

FANBOYS:  for; and; nor; but; or; yet; so ~ FANBOYS are seven small words used as coordinators within a sentence. Although sometimes used effectively in the hands of skilled writers, FANBOYS should not be used to begin a sentence. FANBOYS show no action and can lead to wordiness.

For one long moment, I stood still.  (I stood still for one long moment.)

And I asked her what she really meant.  (I asked her what she really meant.)

Nor will I ever do that again.  (I never will do that again.)
But, I won’t take no for an answer.  (I won’t take no for an answer.)

Or, you could drop me off first.  (You could drop me off first.)
Yet, he still didn’t seem to understand.  (He still didn’t seem to understand.)

So, I went to my room and cried myself to sleep.  (I went to my room and cried myself to sleep.)

Weak Verbs ~ A strong sentence lies in the power of strong verbs. Powerful verbs create a word picture and prompt a question in the mind of the reader. Different story thoughts are triggered by strong verbs. For example:

- He came into the room.
- He stumbled into the room.
- He bounded into the room.
- He moseyed into the room.
- He raced into the room.
- He ran into the room.
- He strode into the room.
- He sauntered into the room.

Use of ‘to be’ verbs: am, are, is, was, were ~ The verb forms of ‘to be,’ are weak. They delay the subject of the sentence, and are boring. They can cause agreement problems in sentences because they are in present, past and present perfect tenses.

I am reading.  You are reading. She is reading.  I was reading.  They were reading.
He is ready for school.  They are ready for school.
She was doing her homework.  They were doing their homework.

To produce clearer writing as you edit, review your work to avoid these troublesome rascals!

Valerie Allen writes fiction, nonfiction, short stories and children's books. (Amazon.com/author/valerieallen) She assists writers with marketing via Authors For Authors with two major annual events in warm and sunny Florida. Meet the Authors Book Fair in the Fall and the Writers' Conference: Write, Publish, Sell! in the Spring. Vendors and presentations encourage networking and marketing to increase book sales. Book Display options are available for authors throughout the USA. Valerie loves to hear from readers and writers! Contact her at: VAllenWriter@gmail.com  and AuthorsForAuthors.com


MORE ON WRITING

Writing Books - Is There Money in It?

A Writer’s Bucket and Mop List

When Writing is Not a Career

1 comment:

  1. Valerie, thanks for these tips on making your sentences sparkle!

    ReplyDelete

We would love to know your thoughts on this post!