Carol is Nice and Words and Sentences and Paragraphs matter

Carol is nice. And a fabulous mother herself. And nice. And nekkid.

This is important information.

Also,

I take my Sammy on walks because he wakes up early and then loves to pounce on other people in the house and there are SIX available candidates who are sleeping soundly and most of those six have been awake (and screaming) at least one time or another in the night so this person (ME) who is usually the first person (though sometimes it’s his father, bless his soul) he attacks, does not want him to wake any of the other six if at all possible.

Please read this sentence out loud. Fast. Is it a good sentence? Why or why not?

Here are some more sentences:

Brian Robeson stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below. It was a small plane, a Cessna 406—a bush plane—and the engine was so loud, so roaring and consuming and loud, that it ruined any chance for conversation.

Not that he had much to say. He was thirteen and the only passenger on the plane with a pilot named—what was it? Jim or Jake or something—who was in his mid-forties and who had been silent as he worked to prepare for take-off. In fact since Brian had come to the small airport in Hampton, New York to meet the plane—driven by his mother—the pilot had spoken only five words to him.

“Get in the copilot’s seat.”

Read these out loud. Fast. Are they good sentences? Why or why not?*

Here’s another example:

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.

Same questions.**

I know I’ve been harping on sentence structure and style lately and that’s because they matter. They matter a lot. The more I write, the more I read, the more I see how crucial it is we become concerned with the sound of our sentences. The rhythm of our words. The structure of our paragraphs.

Do you read your writing out loud? Do you look at the page and assess the paragraph lengths? Is there variety? Are there punches? Do you ramble? Is there any joy or delight in your writing on a surface level?

Take one page of your WIP and play with the sentences. Rewrite them. Rearrange them. Play with the sentence length. The paragraph length. The formatting. Eat cinnamon bears. Chocolate covered. Spend your entire writing session playing with the English language.

If you have time and you’re brave, report back. Maybe even post a before and after sentence.

I promise with all my heart hope to die, this will make you a better writer, It will make writing more fun. It will make your readers want to come back again and again even if they don’t know why.

Love and candy,

The End.

*This is from Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I have a story about Hatchet I will share later.

**This is from Matilda which I love.

P.S. I’m thinking of starting a class. On writing. With lots of reading. And eating. And writing. And talking.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Carol is Nice and Words and Sentences and Paragraphs matter

  1. CLW

    I’ll go to the class.

  2. Emily

    I would definitely be interested in eating. I could try writing.

  3. Put me on your “am-interested-in-your-class-if-I’m-not-broke-when-you-start,” list. I’ll bring caramels.

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