Hey, Seekers! I'm happy to be a guest here on Seekerville. Today I'm sharing one of my first articles on writing, one that has helped me in my writing and has helped many others. I hope after you read it, you'll post a sentence from your own writing and try to "power it up" with these tools. I'll read them and comment. Here we go!
Powered-up Sentences in Seven Steps
When I completed my first manuscript, I thought a national day of celebration should be proclaimed. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered contest judges, agents, and editors weren't impressed by my 700 neat pages. They expected not only that each chapter, page, and paragraph be effective, but they also demanded that exacting standard apply to each sentence and even each word. Didn't they know that perfectionism of this level put them at risk for early cardiac arrest?
When I had no luck changing their minds, I decided I would have to conform. Being a seasoned (or shell-shocked) English teacher, I went back to the basics of sentence structure. There are only four types of sentences in English. (Yes, that's all we have to work with.)
Simple: subject + verb
Compound: subject + verb + conjunction + subject + verb.
Complex: subordinate conjunction + subject + verb, (comma) subject + verb.
Compound-complex: a compound and a complex sentence joined by a conjunction.
These are the basic building blocks for every page you will ever write. So you ask, what's a dramatic about them? How could Margaret Mitchell, the Brontës, and Jane Austen do magic with these building blocks? Here's how.
Seven Power Rules
1. The simpler the better. The clear, simple sentence packs more power than a long string of clauses.
2. Keeping #1 in mind, a variety of sentence structures is preferred to repetition of just one. Even one paragraph of only simple sentences disturbs the reader.
3. In a paragraph of long sentences, a short sentence takes on prominence and vice versa.
4. Subordinate conjunction subordinate or weaken the clause they introduce. They make the clause dependent on another clause, one which can stand alone. Example: "when we come home late" cannot stand on its own be and understood. (Common subordinate conjunctions: if, because, after, before, since, when).
5. Humans always remember the last word they've read. Just as we build a plot to a climax, every sentence reaches a climax at its end. Save the best to be used as a last word.
6. Don't bury your most striking word or idea in the middle. Example: "Jake will explode when we come home late." Explode is the most evocative word in the sentence and it lies buried in the middle. Why not build up to that evocative word? "When we come home late, Jack will explode."
7. When you break rule #6, everyone notices! If you put the most important word first (instead of last), you give it special emphasis. Example: "Explode, that's what Jake will do when we come home late."
These seven rules are the touchstones of powerful sentences. And, once you can create powerful sentences, you'll be able to use those sentences to build evocative stories and articles -- and make sales.
Copyrighted- Lyn Cote -1998
(First printed in "Writer's Forum," a publication for students, faculty, and friends of Writer's Digest School, Fall 1998)
I hope you'll drop by my website and take a look at my Christian Book Publishers page and my How to be Published page. I'm also teaching a February class on the Conflict Grid and that's on the latter page. Final day to register is today!
BTW, I'm doing something different this year. I'm posting my very first (never published) novel, La Belle Christiane, on my blog. I'm posting a new scene every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When I completely post a chapter, I then post it in PDF on my website on the Archived Free Read Page. I've just started Chapter Five (of 25 chapters) last week. Hope you'll drop by and join in my heroine Christiane's adventurous life during the American Revolution!
Can the beautiful daughter of a French courtesan find a love that will last?
Bio: When Lyn Cote became a mother, she gave up teaching, and while raising a son and a daughter, she began working on her first novel. Years of rejection followed. Finally in 1997, Lyn got "the call." Her first book, Never Alone, was chosen for the new Love Inspired romance line. Since then, Lyn has had over thirty novels published. In 2006 Lyn's book, Chloe, was a finalist for the RITA, one of the highest awards in the romance genre.
Lyn’s brand “Strong Women, Brave Stories,” always includes three elements: a strong heroine who is a passionate participant in her times, authentic historical detail and a multicultural cast of characters. Lyn also features stories of strong women both from real life and true to life fiction on her blog http://BooksbyLynCote.com
Lyn also can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Drop by and "friend or follow" her. Now living her dream of writing books at her lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, Lyn hopes her books show the power of divine as well as human love.
To purchase a copy, drop by www.LynCote.net
Lyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of her Love Inspired Historical release, Her Healing Ways. Simply comment and/or leave a sentence for Lyn to review in the comments. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.