1. ibodybuild
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    ibodybuild New Member

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    How to improve sentence structure?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ibodybuild, Dec 21, 2009.

    Hi everyone! I'm new here, just signed up.

    I am looking to improve my sentence structure and grammar. What should I do in order to do so? I feel that my sentence structure and grammar abilities are currently quite poor.
     
  2. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    1. Nothin' wrong with the couple of graphs you wrote here:). But write some stories or essays and post them for others to read. Reviewers will have lots of advice, and it won't all be the same (which might suggest many alternatives where you can see what effect each might have). Review others stories and check on structure and grammar issues you think are wrong to see how to make them right.

    2. Strunk & White THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, or some other style book: Read it and Use it. Especially when you have a question about something specific, because you'll get used to hunting for answers.

    3. Read lots of books or stories and see how authors do what they do, which I think can give you a sense of variations in structure and grammar and how that affects style.

    All I can think of right now.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What Molly said, but in the reverse order. Read, read, and read some more! The more you read, the better your intuitive understanding of sentence and paragraph structure, the ins and outs of grammar and punctuation, and correct spelling and usage.

    But read with intent. Pay attention to more than just the story. Notice how the author tells the story. Take note of sentence length and complexity, and word choices, and how the sentences combine to make paragraphs. See where and why te author inserts breaks between paragraphs. It won't all make sense at first, but the more you read, the better you will develop an instinct, and the more quickly you will spot the mistakes made by published authors, too.

    Books like Strunk and White's The Elements of Style will help you learn the finer points of good writing. You'll learn about some of the subtler mistakes you would probably not otherwise notice, such as redundant or misleading word choices, and when to insert or remove commas make your meaning clearest.

    But stick to reference quides. Popular "How to write your first novel" books are so often laden with absolutely terrible advice that it is difficult to tell the bad recommendations from the good unless you already have a great deal of experience.

    Finally, practice writing. Our Review Room is a critiquing workshop, so you will be expected to learn to critique writing samples before you may post your own. That way, you will understand the thought processes behind good critique, which will help you apply (or pass over) suggestions about your writing, and also to critique your own writing.

    But until you are ready to tackle that challenge, you can and should write stories and poems to your member blog, and take part in the weekly writing competitions.
     
  4. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    While being an avid reader will always help your writing no matter what you feel your issues are, it can't replace the practice of writing.

    What I've found over the years is that writing a lot has helped more than all the reading I've ever done. And not just writing, but having other's critique your writing will help ten fold. Also critiquing others will help over time as you start to see their problems in your own writing.

    I also like the book Self-editing for fiction writers. It's a great book for learning how to edit your own work, grammar to some extent, and sentence structure. There are also several Grammar websites that can help you, just google english grammar rules.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to learn how to be a writer, you must first be a reader... so do what cog said...
     

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