1. GazingAbyss
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    GazingAbyss Member

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    Fixing repetitive sentence structure

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by GazingAbyss, Nov 29, 2012.

    I definitely have a problem in my writing where I use sentences that start with a character's name or 'I' if the story is in first person (this sentence being an inadvertent example :p). I know I really need to vary the sentence structure (there it is again...), but I'm not sure how to switch it up when I'm writing a scene that's heavy on actions (i.e., describing a character doing something rather than describing what's happening around them). One way to mix it up is to add an action that's simultaneously happening at the beginning of the sentence, like "Looking around, he decided blah blah blah..." but I'm not sure if there are any other good ways to make things less repetitive.

    Anyone have any particular tricks they like for this?
     
  2. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I will use sentence fragments and short expository sentences, broken by longer sentences with mixed grammar -- sometimes leading with the main clause, sometimes with a subordinate/subjunctive clause. Sample:

     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ... i'll use your wording there to show you how to avoid this common problem:

    ... see how easy that was?...

    ...that's not really a good way to add an action, as most new writers don't connect actions that can actually occur at the same time... which is why i always advise new writers to avoid starting sentences with a present participle ['ing'-ending] verb...

    ...here's a less risky and more sense-making way to do it:

    ...which is much better than:

    ...hope this helps... hugs, maia
     
  4. GazingAbyss
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    GazingAbyss Member

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    That's a great example, but my biggest problem is with action scenes. If you're describing a character doing something, they're going to have to be the subject of the sentence, and that's where I start to sound most repetitive. Your less risky version of my sentence...

    ...actually ends up having the same structure I find myself repeating over and over, just in third-person. Are there any good alternatives to starting the sentence with your subject? Or is it better to just do what you did in the first example, and try to switch the subject of the sentence without changing the message you're trying to communicate?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, i was only using your own example, which you put in third, and probably missed your point, having posted before finishing my morning green tea... :redface:

    here are a couple more relevant first person examples:

    notice how there are no 'i's anywhere in either sentence... it's not all that hard to do, if you give it some thought... hope this helps better than my last try... hugs, m
     
  6. GazingAbyss
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    GazingAbyss Member

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    Ah, thanks, that's awesome!
     

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