1. Artist369
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    Artist369 Active Member

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    Repetitive Sentences

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Artist369, Aug 25, 2014.

    I'm struggling to be succinct in my sentences while still maintaining grace. Problem is, now that I've read all about the "rules", things like stripping adverbs that end in "ly", relying on strong verbs rather than adjectives, dropping gerund openings (the dreaded, "Blahing, he blahed" construct-Thank Chicken Freak for that lovely terminology) I feel my sentence structure is stale. Yes, perhaps "Subject verb object" is the strongest sentence structure, but it gets old. If the main action ought to come before subsequent actions, and actions are best dealt with in separate sentences, I am confined to the above sentence over and over again. I feel like I'm losing my voice when I try to be so minimalistic. Frankly, it sounds juvenile to me.

    How do I spice things up?

    For instance: I have two excerpts. Once using what I consider the "stronger" version, as according to what I've been reading. And one which is what I am more inclined to write. Disclaimer: this is fan fiction. Yeah, cheesy, I know.

    Better version?

    Quick and to the point, but lacking life and cadence.

    My natural instinct:
    There must be some happy medium. I'm trying to find it before I try to write a novel and embarrass myself. Care to edit these sentences to be lean and mean and still varied?
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ignoring the FanFic subject :) I'd go with your natural instinct. I definitely liked the second version better than the first. You "naturally" varied your sentence structure—only one sentence in that second sample begins with "He." More importantly, you varied the sentence length more in that second version, too. The second example reads with less of a thump thump thump thump cadence, and your final sentence is long enough to break that rhythm especially well. It adds a bit of humour too.

    I reckon if you can do these two things throughout your writing...

    1) don't begin each sentence the same way

    2) vary the length as much as you can by adding or subtracting clauses, combining or separating ideas, etc

    ...your flow will be fine.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  3. Wolfrequiem
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    Wolfrequiem New Member

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    I prefer the second, as well, though I think I would have amended it to read "arms, legs, and all, abandoning his..." In the end, trust your gut, though I know that is easier said than done sometimes (and I am actually joining the forum because I am struggling with that advice myself--it always seems easier to read and edit others than it is ourselves, at least, in my own case). To me, though, if you stick with your natural proclivities as sampled here, you'll be fine. And good luck with your novel.
     
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  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I like the second example more. It makes for a more interesting read.
     
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  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Absolutely not. Your first option works perfectly well. I could read that kind of writing for extended passages and not get tired of it. It accomplishes its goal: it helps me imagine what is happening. It is not "lacking in life"; there is plenty of life in the scene I imagine.

    The second option accomplishes the same goal. Honestly, the difference between the two is inconsequential. I imagine the same scene. However, If the passages were continued, then I could probably read the first option a bit faster. If you value the reader's time, then that is a good thing. :)
     
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  6. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I'll agree with @daemon. I like the first better (and would really like it with a few changes), but I'm a big fan of clean, spare writing.
     
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  7. Artist369
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    Artist369 Active Member

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    Maybe in the end, it comes down to author voice. Seems we all have our preferences. I do know that it takes effort to be so concise. For a first draft, I'll go with my instinct to get things down, then edit out redundancy and look for ways to strike a balance.
     
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  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is why I like the second example better. It's all about voice and style. The first example seems formulaic to me.
     
  9. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    I like the second example more. Gives the reading a "flavor", for lack of a better word.

    It's always good to remember that you should be choosing words and phrases and styles and length and everything else with the emotions of the reader in mind. What you write, the reader feels.

    In the first example, the knees and palms colliding with the stone had no mention of the pain inflicted. The second example includes this pain, which creates a different feeling for the reader. The context of the scene should dictate which information is necessary to include. Is it meant to be a grueling climb? Let the reader know. Is the climber experienced and hardened? Maybe he doesn't feel the pain.

    Pick what is necessary for the reader to know and make sure you include that. Nothing else is necessary.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say it depends entirely on context. The second version is slower than the first, but whether that's good or bad depends on what you're trying to do. If you follow the writing "rules" all the time you'll be going at a breakneck pace all the time, but a good writer will control the pace, and in the passage you give us - a slow, laborious climb - then slowing down the pace can help build up the tension as the reader anticipates what's going to happen at the top. Provided you remember to pick up the pace and move to something like the first style once you get to the action, of course.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    First is much better, in my opinion, allowing the reader to immerse themselves. Second version is like hearing the writer talk about something. The only problem in the first version is repetition of the word 'screwdriver'. It's a noticeable word and reading it second time threw me out of the narrative.
     

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