Writing a book is writing the same sentence over and over. Don’t get stuck and frustrated if this happens to you. It’s a sign you are truly an author and you have an innate ability in knowing when a sentence could be written stronger.
What I described happens to me all the time, especially as I’m reading over a chapter I’ve already written. It’s not so much that I’m making major changes to a sentence. The reason I find myself rewriting a sentence over and over can be for several reasons: I want to make the sentence as short as possible without it losing its point; I want to make a sentence to read more clearly and without confusion; I want to add an emotional impact by using tension words. Let me give you an example. I’m not going to use a sentence from the historical I’m writing, and don’t want to waste time trying to find one, so I’ll use one that I already have up from a new book I will soon release. I chose to use this sentence because it’s what I call a dramatic impact sentence.
Before reading it, know this. I have written this same sentence many, many times.
That’s why DSO wanted her dead, because there was no other child on God’s green Earth that knew things like the girl did.
DSO wanted the kid dead because there was no other child like her on God’s green Earth.
I want important sentences in my story to stand out and have the most impact possible. As you can see, the sentences aren’t that different and are the same when it comes to content. But did you know that experienced writers use different sentence types throughout their manuscript? Here are a few such types:
1. Dramatic: used for emotional impact or to make a reader pause and think
2. Action: did you know that action sentences differ from ordinary sentences when it comes to sentence structure and length?
3. Prose: these sentences have a more poetic flow
4. Tension: these are used to heighten situations of conflict
Like I said, these are only a few types.
After I write a sentence, I can normally tell if it’s lacking something. But here is something I practice. I never allow myself to get stuck on a sentence when I’m writing a chapter. I continue with the chapter, because I don’t want to interrupt my writing flow or stop the voices from speaking, and I certainly don’t want to stop the scene from unfolding in front of my eyes. Remember when I said I write in layers? This is part of it. First, I make it a point to get the chapter written, because I can always go back and switch sentences from ordinary to the kind I need.
Since I’m talking about sentences, here’s something else I practice. I start each chapter and end it with a certain sentence type.
At the beginning of each chapter I want to keep the reader hooked. Depending on the previous chapter, this sometimes determines how I start the next chapter. If in the previous chapter I ended it with the reader dangling and filled with anticipation, I want to feed that anticipation with the first sentence in the very next chapter. That’s one of my practices and I’m mentioning it because I don’t want the reader to have to wait to get their anxiety fix. This means I don’t want to leave them dangling then start a new chapter on a totally different subject. Why? Because I don’t need to trick the reader in an attempt to keep them reading.
Forcing a reader to wait until I’m ready to divulge the answers they’re looking for will annoy them more than keep them fascinated. A good author will keep a reader fascinated in the storyline rather than tricks used in writing. I never want to force the reader to do anything and because I’m an avid reader as well as an author, I know from experience that you can’t force a reader to keep reading a book. Either they’re into the story and are captivated by it or they’re not.
I want to end each chapter by one of different ways. Here are a few.
1. Drop a big secret
2. Hint at something the reader already suspects (this is done to heighten their suspicions)
3. Leave one of my characters face to face with conflict
4. Leave my character fearful of what will happen next in their life
Like I said, these are only a few ways. Depending on what genre of book I’m writing, I will end a chapter in one of many ways, but one thing remains true. I want to open and close a chapter with anticipation as much as I can. But on some occasions, I must open a chapter by introducing a new dilemma or character, or at a new location than where my previous chapter left off. Whenever this must be done, I will do it with care. I don’t want this new introduction or location to be longer than it should be. Knowing just how much details or information should be given is sometimes hard to gage.
This is when I trust my instincts. I can also have someone I trust read over it and let them point out what they felt went wrong in the chapter.
Sentence structure is very important when writing. Using the right structure will have a better impact on the reader. This is why writers scrutinize over their manuscript before deciding if it has earned the title of Final Draft. There are also times when a writer purposely write fragmented sentences. Of course, this is a no-no in the grammar world, but is overlooked if it’s obvious that the fragmented sentence has the impact it was intended to make.
The first time I began writing as an author, I didn’t know any of the things I’ve mentioned in this thread, but the more I wrote, and the more I read books, before long I began to pick up on these things instinctually.
Here’s one last thing I want to mention. I have a good size vocabulary. This comes in handy so I’m not constantly using the same verbs and adjectives. But in times when I need a little help, Roget’s Thesaurus comes in handy, and I’m not referring to hard words, long words, or words not often used in the majority of people’s conversations. For example, there are different ways to say dangerous: alarming, critical, deadly, threatening, perilous, etc.!
I can have the best plot ever thought of, but if the sentence structure of my chapters don’t echo it, no one’s going to spend their time reading my books.
Sentence structure. It’s important. That’s what I worked on today as I tried to bring my story closer to its final pages. At no point during my manuscript can I drop the ball. I have to give each page the best effort I can.
Until next time, keep writing! It’s not hard. If I can do it, you can do it. One last thing. I’m having a book release party. The prizes aren’t confirmed yet, but there are going to be some great prizes. My team is leaning toward a Kindle Fire, $50 Amazon gift card, Starbucks gift cards. If you want to participate in the book release party, I’ll need to know how to find you on Facebook. Simply go to my Contact page and let me know. To qualify to win one of the prizes, you must purchase the book I’m releasing, which will be discounted on the day of the party from 2.99 to $.99. Yep, for only a buck you can win a Kindle or one of several gift cards. Hope to see you there! We're looking at the first part of June to have all the fun.