1. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Starting sentences

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by michaelj, Jun 23, 2013.

    Is this appropriate? I'm looking for other ways to start sentences.

    For example, another way instead of always starting with "He did this." "He did that." "Xxx did this." All the time.

    "He tilted his rifle and looked inside."

    "Tilting his rifle, he looked inside."

    Would the second one be seen as bad writing? Is there any rules? As far as I'm aware they're not adv or adj. I can imagine it can look bad if overdone?

    I'm also aware that I can start sentences other ways such as descriptions, other people etc. However, this is regarding moments when a character is on his own.
     
  2. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    As with anything, participles can be overused, yes. But they aren't bad grammar.

    Make sure the action is happening at the same time. For instance, "Picking up the heavy box with both hands, John put it down," would be BAD. Don't do this. If the actor can't do both simultaneously, then don't use a participle.

    A good use would be, "Frowning, John returned his favorite drill."
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    To help avoid the constant use of the syntactic structure you mention, it helps to know that you don't have to marionette the reader through every move. The fact that the character is on his/her own is of no consequence. Instead of walking the reader through the action, directly describe the action's result, in this case, what he sees. The action at that point is directly inferred, no need to mention it.

    As an example:

    "Rifling groves disappeared down the barrel of the gun, clean and unimpeded."

    Does this work in every situation? Of course not, but it works in plenty of them, enough to help make your syntactic structures more diverse. ;)
     
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  4. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Nothing wrong in using any of the two sentences. Yes, repetition of sentence structure can be monotonous as you pointed out and using -ing form of verb can help break that.

    Edit: sorry I am repeating, took too long to reply :(
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I am working on the same issue as the OP. This is a helpful post.
     
  6. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great post, Wrey. I'm pretty sure we've all struggled with that issue at some point, and all dealt with it in our own way, but that's pretty much the perfect advice for the situation.
     
  7. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Things you can do are the following.
    Combine sentences through the use of coordinating conjunctions, using When, As, or other words as sentence starters. Here are paragraphs from authors I read and you should pay attention to how they vary their sentences.

    -Tim O'Brien.

    -Ernest Hemingway

    -Tobias Wolffe

    -BlackStar

    That's the best way to learn how to implement something writing related. Read from one of the masters and see how they vary their sentences. I hope these examples helped you.
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I really like this advice.
     

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