Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fast action requires short sentences

I have, at various times in my life, been an technical writer. When I do that I have to make sure that sentences are short and succinct. The idea is to educate in small digestible pieces. The goal is to inform, not entertain. I'm usually pretty good at that. Most of the time the subject is dry anyway.

Where I run into problems is when I am writing for pleasure, I tend to get florid, writing paragraph long sentences filled with action, movements, and even dialog. When this happens, my editor, the esteemed Danielle Fine, breaks out into hives and the page turns red.

The other issue with long florid writing is the tendency to either beat a subject to death, or even worse, slip into an unnecessary tangent. I do that quite often, perhaps it is that I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head while I write. Maybe it is Calvin the Helper dog interrupting me to let me know there are squirrels about, perhaps...but I digress.

It's always a struggle for me, I like the long turn of phrase, but I see her point. I do not, as of yet, have the writing chops to pull off a Dickensian length phrase, but one day, if I keep at it, victory shall be mine.

For me the sentence is there to paint a picture, not to bog down the plot, It should drive the action along, not to go full on Edward Bulwar-Lytton.

Further, as there is a lot of action in my stories, and I do like a fast paced novel, short sentences rule. I'm trying to pare my sentences down so that only two or three things occur in each one.

He continued to stride to the locked door, but turned his head back at me.

That is up to you,” he said as he reached it.”

I kept my pistol up and ready to fire as I eased down the hall, taking short, choppy steps.”

Most of my readers, so far have found my book gripping, it is so fast paced, the excess is stripped away to a bare story, they end up reading the whole thing in one sitting, unable and unwilling to break away. That is a huge compliment as far as I'm concerned, and if it means more rewrites to get the story just so, I am happy to do it.
If you like to be thrilled; enjoy a great dark novel, and wonder what it would be like fight witches and their minions, give my book a try. Almost guaranteed enjoyment.

No comments: