Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Varied sentence structure


Today, I'm focused on varied sentence structure. Basic craft, right? It's all I can do not to scream, because this stuff seems so easy, but, apparently, it's actually hard. (Next up: figuring out what was wrong with the comma situation in that last sentence.)

Why? What in the world could possibly grab me and shake me and tell me I need to pay some attention to varied sentences? Contest feedback. One of my judges gave me feedback that I needed to switch up sentences more. She also hated my premise, had a real problem with my comma usage and was pretty hard all around on the book. My second judge in the same contest praised the writing, offered all kinds of detailed constructive advice and also questioned my comma use. (So, I'm definitely going to be tackling commas next!)

It would be easy to discount the first judge, since the second one was so complimentary, but there is truth in every perspective and I'm grateful for the feedback. Spending time on sentence structure will only make me a better writer. So, I say many, many thanks to all the contest judges out there helping other writers move along. Writing is subjective. It's like ripping out your heart and throwing it on the table for others to poke and prod. Yet, I can't think of anything more magical, awe-inspiring and connecting in the whole world.

If you're still confused about varied sentence structure, below is the quote that sorted it all for me:

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”
-Gary Provost