February 16, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...

Today's crunch is all about SENTENCE STRUCTURE.
I'm not going to give a lesson on nouns and verbs and dangling participles.


Instead, this will be a study of flow and consistency. A high fiber crunch, if you will.

There were feathers all over the wood floor.

Compelling, but remember our lesson on unnecessary words?

Feathers littered the wood floor.

What makes this better? The subject of the sentence is active. The feathers are doing something, instead of just being used to describe a floor. Feathers are taking part in your story. Cool.

Instead of:
The alcove was lined with candles.

Use:
Candles lined the alcove wall.

Next, align verb tenses within a sentence.
The dog bared its teeth as I was raising my head and I let out a cry.
A little scattered.

The dog bared its teeth as I raised my head. A cry escaped me.
The verbs are consistent, and did you see my use of our lesson above? Pretty sneaky, huh?

Action reversals. What are these? I did not know. But now I do. Most readers visualize the action taking place on the pages, taking the information given them and creating a world in which the characters act. So, it makes sense that we as writers direct the action in the order it is made. Otherwise, it may be confusing to the reader.

He handed her the dripping cloth after running it under the water.
This sentence pulls our reader out of the story, because halfway through it they are asking themselves, "Wait, what? I thought the cloth was dry." Then they finish reading. "Oh, it was dripping because he ran it under water. Duh." Yes, duh, but still we pulled our reader out of the story. And you all know how I feel about that.

He ran the cloth under the faucet and handed it to her, dripping water all over the floor and down her fingers.
The order of action is clear.
And I used another previous lesson, avoiding repetition by using fingers at the end, instead of hands, because I already used handed earlier in the sentence. You probably didn't even notice, huh? But I bet you would have if I hadn't changed it. Very handy.

And so wraps another segment of Tuesday Edit Crunch. Hope your flow and consistency becomes very... regular. Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy.

4 comments:

Nisa said...

Love your edit crunches!

M. Gray said...

I love thinking about this stuff. Kudos to you for explaining it well!

Elana Johnson said...

I love this post! Excellent crunch today. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

Great post! I can always use help to make my sentences better.

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