Showing posts with label sentence structure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sentence structure. Show all posts

Thursday, August 16, 2018

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


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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Creating Variety in Sentence Structure


Monotony is a writer's enemy. One great way to provide variety for your reader is through some techniques that can change up sentence structure. 

1. End with a punch. Sometimes we have a great sentence, but we begin with what could be a powerful ending. Switch it around and see if you add a surprise that your reader will appreciate.

2. Use an occasional short sentence for emphasis. Too many short sentences, just like too many long sentences can turn your readers off, but using a short sentence every once in a while can draw your reader's attention.

3. Use parallels. Often we work to make sure that our word choices vary, but sometimes using parallel ideas can create a more powerful sentence. 

Other ideas:
1. Invert sentences. Consistently following the norm: subject, verb, then object structure can become boring for readers. Inverting doesn't always sound natural, so be sure to read it out loud, but when it works it creates exactly what may keep your reader interested.

2. Vary sentences. Long and short, simple and compound. Mix it up for your reader.

3. Watch what you begin with. Often habits form and sentences begin to sound repetitive. Also look at the beginnings of paragraphs for the same monotony. 

Mixing things up and spending time reworking your sentences is all part of the editing process that can make your work stand out. 

_____________________________________
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook. 
  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Writing Abundance!


So much written about the fact there are only 7 stories or themes for writers to work with.

1. Man against man
2. Man against nature
3. Man against himself
4. Man against God
5. Man against society
6. Man caught in the middle
7. Man and woman
                        Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

While there may only be 7 stories or themes, there is an abundance of ways to tell your story.

1. Characters: Create full-bodied characters. This means that while they may be handsome or pretty they could also have a mean streak. Or perhaps they are plain and have a deep reservoir of knowledge or compassion that makes them beautiful. Are they missing a limb, a moral high ground, or an education?

2. Word Choice: Surprise your reader each page. Work to use a little known or used word. Engage your readers. Word choice is the perfect way in which to do that. I find that reading my work out loud showcases the monotony of words and also the monotony of sounds used. Play with language and create something that stands out among the rest. As Ernest Hemingway said, "Use vigorous English."

3. Setting: Create your setting as you would a character. Give it depth. Give it a major role in the story. Work to incorporate your setting over and over again so that your reader never forgets where they are. Keep them grounded. As with all things in life, we each perceive a setting differently. The Wyoming mountains can be majestic or intimidating. The prairie vast or empty. Let your reader know how your character views their landscape in a way that opens your reader's eyes to a new way of thinking.

4.  Sentence structure: Find ways to use sentence structure to enhance your story. Vary lengths - long and short sentences. Vary paragraph length too. Use sentences in a way that they bind the reader to the story. Short sentences can increase anxiety - showcase action. Long sentences can create deep feelings.

Tell a story so that your reader never wants to leave it. Tell a story that engages, wraps your reader's emotions into a ball, pulls them inside out and makes them feel something - anger, fear, strength, love, hope, or promise.

________________________________________
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Serieswas written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception.The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.



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