1. Bright Shadow

    Bright Shadow Member

    Feb 24, 2011
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    Too many sentences start out with "she did this..she did that...she went here..."

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Bright Shadow, Feb 14, 2013.

    Okay, I have been told I am pretty good at writing by other writers. However, considering it has been an age of the world since I last step foot in an English class, I lack a good deal of the vocabulary to explain writing issues. Let me give an example of the kind of sentences I keep writing over and over:
    "Jill had heard there were fire beasts in the forests. She never took those stories seriously, and laughed at the notion as she strolled through the glade. Suddenly, she turned her eyes at a movement in the distance. Her jaw fell open as she saw the beast in the distance. She paused, hoping it hadn't seen her..."

    She did this, she did that, ah! My writing reads like a shopping list of what the character does.

    I have been trying to change things up a bit and have other characters do something and start the sentence with them doing an action. Also, I have been trying to make non-humans the ones doing the action. Example: "Dust exploded into the air." "A bell tolled in the distance."

    But still, I have way to many "she does this, she does that." Is there a term for that kind of sentence? Also, anyone else have a similar issue with their prose?
  2. Lost72

    Lost72 Member

    Oct 4, 2011
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    North-east England

    You can do away with a lot of the 'she turned her eyes ...', 'she saw ...', etc by describing only the observation and not the act of observing. If you report a 'Beast in the distance' then, provided you're in your MC's POV, it's a given that your MC is seeing this without the need to tell the reader 'she saw ...'.

    A simple example using your excerpt:

    'There were stories of Fire Beasts in the forests, though Jill had never taken them seriously and now laughed at the notion as she strolled through the glade. Something moved in the distance and she froze. A Beast! She crouched, praying it hadn't seen her.'

  3. Yoshiko

    Yoshiko Contributor Contributor

    Jun 14, 2009
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    Based on your example, I would suggest trying to vary sentence length and structure more. It should help to cut down on repetition. A change in style would help too: throughout this paragraph we're simply being told what Jill does and why she is doing it; instead you should show us what she is doing and let us come to our conclusion on why she is reacting in that way.

    Also, what you're referring to with the dust and the bell is called personification.
  4. xtracker85

    xtracker85 New Member

    Jan 20, 2013
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    I suffer from this same problem when writing hand-to-hand fight scenes involving more than two characters. Whenever I describe different actions, I find myself having to repeat names to avoid readers getting mixed up with who is fighting who. I try to minimize it in areas when it's obvious who the character might be, but often times, there's just no other way.
  5. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    here's how to avoid it:

    avoid bi/bo [breathe-in/breathe-out] writing... don't bore your readers with details of every single movement of every single body part of your characters... leave something to the imagination!
  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    Mammamaia and Lost72 are right. You can rephrase your sentences to eliminate your problem.

    I'd like to reiterate the point Lost72 made: You don't have to write "She saw a beast move through the forest." Just write "A beast moved through the forest." In other words, you don't have to describe her perception of something happening; just write that something happened. Your readers will follow this, and it works wonders for eliminating all those pesky "She did this ..." constructions.

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