The Craft of Writing Archives
Writing that uses mostly short sentences tends to be choppy, which can be annoying to read. On the other hand, writing that contains mostly long, complex sentences tends to be boring and is often difficult to understand. Neither is a good choice.
Good writers use a variety of sentence lengths and types in their writing. We have four sentence types to choose from when building...more
Syntax is the order and relationship among the structural elements (sentences and paragraphs) in our writing. Basically, it is how we place our words. Syntax is often dependent upon our individual styles, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a correct way to create sentences and put them into paragraphs that lend music to the rhythm of the prose....more
Punctuating dialogue is straightforward, and follows the punctuation rules outlined earlier. In addition, there are some issues writers must keep in mind.
In a previous section we discussed the use of attributions, which we use to indicate who is speaking and to add color to a scene. An attribution is a sentence or a group of sentences set immediately before or after the dialogue line and in the same POV, used to signal who is speaking. In contrast to tags, we separate attributions from the dialogue with a period, never a comma....more
The best is “said.” Simple, perhaps boring, but preferable to chortled, moaned, growled, or laughed. Many writers feel the word is dull and replace it with what is thought to be a more exciting word. Sometimes a more interesting word is all right, but most times, it doesn’t benefit the dialogue.
Dialogue should serve a purpose. When well written, it moves the story forward and adds to depth to our characters. It’s pivotal to create intimacy between our readers and the story. In section XXXX we cover the mechanics of good dialogue. Now let’s discuss rewriting to eliminate common dialogue problems.
Endings in each chapter and scene are as important as our openers. Readers remember those books that kept them up into the wee hours of the morning or caused them to ignore the laundry piling up and the movie marathon on television.
While we must resolve at the end the question posed in the first lines of the scene,...more
The first lines of a book are crucial to entice our reader to buy the book. The first lines of each chapter and each section or scene must persuade the reader to keep reading. Some of the ways to achieve this include: an unusual phrase; a unique voice; a compelling snippet of action or dialogue; or an active description of setting. Remember, we have about three seconds to convince the reader our story is worth reading. Let’s use that time wisely....more
At the end of a chapter or scene, comes the beginning of another. At each beginning, the writer must hook readers all over again. We’ve all heard how important the first lines of a novel are. We also know the first chapter is crucial. We agree the first pages are what initially spark interest in the readers, but writer’s don’t always recognize they must keep reader attention throughout the story....more
Pulsating loins, glorious orbs, manroots, love clubs, flowering blooms upon porcelain cheeks—purple prose. Similar to overwriting, purple prose clutters the story and slows the reader down. Purple prose is full of metaphors, melodramatic language, cliches, and cartoonish imagery. Consider this passage:...more