Say What You Mean!

Organize-Your-ThoughtsIf you find yourself reading a sentence more than once, or adding information for clarification, that’s a red flag.

Your reader has less information than you. If you are confused by your work, you can only imagine what your reader is going through. I love a great mystery, but my writing shouldn’t be one.

It’s not the reader’s job to interpret your work. You should be clear and concise.  If your writing causes a pause something isn’t working.

I have to admit I love dangling modifiers though. They are some of my favorite mess-ups. I even wrote a blog entitled ‘just for laughs’. They are funny, but not in the middle of a serious scene. You don’t have to try to hard to imagine how quickly they can pull your reader out of their suspension of disbelief.

Dangling modifiers occur when the modifier has no clear referent, and twist the meaning of your sentence in an unintended fashion.

  • I saw a tree walking down the street. Who knew a tree could walk 🙂
  •  The babysitter handed out sandwiches to all the children in Ziplock bags. I just want to know how those children got in those bags 🙂

Misplaced modifiers are similar but not nearly as fun to read. As with dangling modifiers, there is no clear referent, which can lead to a clumsy and confusing sentence.

  • Lucy carefully studied the situation.                                                                                 Lucy studied the situation carefully.

Another mistake new writers make that isn’t always as obvious but makes for a clumsy sentence that will cause a pause is comma splicing.

Comma splicing is when two sentences are linked by a comma but they don’t really work because they’re two separate ideas.

  • John saw the rabid fox and ran to the house to get his gun, he forgot to eat lunch and his tummy rumbled.

What about ambiguous sentences? The sentence is grammatically and structurally sound, but the reader has no idea what you are talking about.

  • My older students know I’m extremely careful with my language. Is the teacher referring to age or length of time the students have been in his class?

Be clear and concise! Say What You Mean!

Something else to think about.

-Jan R

 

Say What You Mean!

Thursday Thoughts

headercreativeexercisesToday’s readers want less description and more action. The strongest stories start with a bang. Readers are drawn to stories where authors pose a question, establish a dilemma, or otherwise inspire curiosity right from the start, creating the turn-the-page urgency that readers crave.  Jane K. Cleland Writers Digest

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Thursday Thoughts

Strong Nouns (Revisited)

untitled.pngWe’ve talked about weak and strong verbs, but did you know the same holds true for nouns? I never really thought about it, until I took an online class that talked about strong and weak nouns. My first thought on weak nouns; the instructor has to be referring to pronouns. Well, he wasn’t and that is a subject for another day.

Strong nouns can help your reader picture what/who the writer is talking about immediately. The author doesn’t have to describe the person, place, or thing. We get it. The more specific the noun, the clearer the picture.

If I wrote a city, dog, or car in a sentence, you would picture your version of the city, dog, or car in your mind. While these nouns aren’t bad, they could be made stronger. An upgrade would be; New York City, German Shepherd, or Ford Mustang. While you may want to make that mustang candy apple red, it doesn’t need much more detail to get a clear picture of the author’s intent.

Names are also strong nouns. Cinderella, Clark Kent, and Harry Potter, all conjure up strong images in your mind.

Weak nouns require additional information to create a clear image in your mind.  The weaker the noun, the more information you will need to provide.

Most weak or dead nouns end in ‘tion’. Examples would be publication, devotion, recitation, adaptation.

These nouns tend to way your sentences down and as stated above, require more detail to produce a clear image. The best way to address these weak nouns, is to change them back into verbs, and rework the sentence.

The couple’s separation occurred at the end of the year.

The couple separated at the end of the year.

Just something else to think about while you’re writing that best selling novel 🙂

-Jan R

Strong Nouns (Revisited)