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Guest
Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 8:06:13 AM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 473,476
A lot of stories seem to read like a shopping list that is being ticked off. I did this, I did that. He did this, he did that, etc.

For example: I undid her blouse, then I undid her bra. I fondled her breasts. I sucked her nipples. (The sentences are not quite as short as that).

It would read far better as: Undoing her blouse slowly I slipped it off her shoulders. As I leaned over to kiss her I unclipped her bra. Kissing my way down her body, I licked her nipple before gently sucking it.

There are a lot of ways that you can start sentences without the He, She, I format and it makes it more interesting for the reader.



RumpleForeskin
Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 5:59:09 PM

Rank: The Right Rev of Lush

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Posts: 2,841
Location: Lost in the ozone somewhere east of Luckenbach Tx,
I agree, approximately 100%. Two other thought in a similar vein:

It's also a good idea to try and avoid overusing introductory prepositional phrases. That is to say, a sentence with a opening clause beginning with an "ing" word. Doing so every now and then is okay, :) but it's very easy to fall into the habit of beginning most sentences/paragraphs that way since it can create a sing-song feel. ex.

Entering the room, he close the door. Going over to her, he pulled her close. Bending over, he nuzzled her neck.....

This is an especially easy trap to fall into when using first person.

glasses8

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords. - ROBERT HEINLEIN

REUNITINGhis need, her want, in a cab -- my contest entry

FROM:
Becky -- FOR: Matt -- With Love:
a Festive contest winner – honest

HOW HUMANS DO IT: a fish-eye view of sex an Editor's Pick - no kidding
Guest
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 3:05:52 AM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 473,476
Yes, that's a good one as well, hadn't thought of that.
Mistress_of_words
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 3:58:37 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/14/2011
Posts: 591
Location: At my keyboard, writing stories for you
Great point Ann :)

For those who struggle with this sort of issue, I think it is something that should be picked up when reading through, rather than consciously worrying about it while writing a first draft. Your first draft is for getting the ideas on the page, you can re-write and improve it once you have that structure.

RF, I agree 100%. In fact, I think your example grates on me more than a string of I or he statements.

A couple of other things to bear in mind with using as statements and verbs with an ing suffix.

1) "As" statements or "-ing" verb statements like RF's examples above describe concurrent actions. That is to say, two things happening at the same time. If you are going to use them, make sure it is physically possible for the things you're describing to happen at the same time.

"Entering the room, he closed the door," for example should really be "he entered the room and closed the door," because he can't close the door at the same time as entering the room.

2) When you describe two pieces of action in the same sentence linked in this way, you make one piece of action subordinate to the other.

"As I leaned over to kiss her, I undid her bra," for example makes the leaning and kissing action a dependant clause. It makes it subordinate and incidental to the other half of the sentence "I undid her bra," which is the focus.

This doesn't make using this type of sentence wrong, it's just something to watch out for. Make sure the piece of action you are tucking away in the dependant clause is the less important of the two.

So, two things to watch out for - misrepresenting consecutive actions as concurrent and weakening important actions by making them subordinate.

I think in writing, there is nothing that you should "never" use, only things you should be wary of using too much.

Guest
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 6:04:29 AM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 473,476
Yes, that's a good point, I hadn't actually thought about the 'going through the door' bit.

You have gone a bit technical on me with the other parts laughing8 but once I look them up I will know what you mean, no doubt.

When I write I tend to just get the ideas out of my head, then go through quite a few times editing it and deleting parts. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying I am perfect, we all make mistakes. Those little touches do make a difference though.

It's strange how things change as well, when I was at school we were taught that you couldn't start a sentence with And or But, that seems to have changed nowadays.
RumpleForeskin
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 8:50:59 AM

Rank: The Right Rev of Lush

Joined: 7/3/2009
Posts: 2,841
Location: Lost in the ozone somewhere east of Luckenbach Tx,
Ann, no doubt about it, Mistress has a handle on grammar. I'm envious.

It's hard to break away from the mind-set inflicted on us by the grammar police we had to endure in school. But in the world of commercial fiction, there is, in my very humble opinion, only one unbreakable rule:

Don't bore the reader.

Agents, publishers,editors, not to mention 'normal' readers tend to quickly become ex-readers if bored.

glasses8

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords. - ROBERT HEINLEIN

REUNITINGhis need, her want, in a cab -- my contest entry

FROM:
Becky -- FOR: Matt -- With Love:
a Festive contest winner – honest

HOW HUMANS DO IT: a fish-eye view of sex an Editor's Pick - no kidding
Guest
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10:29:30 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 473,476
That's two of that are envious then LOL.

Even though I like a well structured sentence I am not very 'au fait' with what the different parts of a sentence are called. It's just a beginning, a middle and an end.

I think I must study the forum a bit more.
DirtyMartini
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 12:00:15 PM

Rank: Purveyor of Poetry & Porn

Joined: 10/19/2009
Posts: 5,722
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RumpleForeskin wrote:


It's also a good idea to try and avoid overusing introductory prepositional phrases. That is to say, a sentence with a opening clause beginning with an "ing" word.


Say what? Speak English in here, will ya?

And I have to agree with MoW...you really should open the door before you go through it...unless, of course, you're doing one of those Superman fanfiction stories...then you might be able to get away with that stuff...happy8


You know you want it, you know you need it bad...get it now on Amazon.com...
Lush Erotica, an Anthology of Award Winning Sex Stories

Guest
Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 12:57:45 AM

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Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 473,476
My biggest failing is using though and however way too much.
Cheltenham
Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012 11:40:33 AM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 6/8/2010
Posts: 49
Location: Living vicariously, United States
The overuse of the words 'and', 'the', 'but' and informal nouns (she, her, they, them, etc) get to me.

I edit on another site (a competitor) and there are people who believe it is an editor's job to write a story for them. They will submit the most chunky, disorderly pieces of work and I've had to refuse so many stories based upon the condition that I receive them in.

Well I hope I never figure out
Who broke your heart ~ Baby if I do
Well I'd spend all night losing sleep
I'd spend the night and I'd lose my mind
RumpleForeskin
Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012 5:55:01 PM

Rank: The Right Rev of Lush

Joined: 7/3/2009
Posts: 2,841
Location: Lost in the ozone somewhere east of Luckenbach Tx,
Bottom line is anytime the reader begins to notice your writing instead of the story, odds are you're in trouble.

glasses8

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords. - ROBERT HEINLEIN

REUNITINGhis need, her want, in a cab -- my contest entry

FROM:
Becky -- FOR: Matt -- With Love:
a Festive contest winner – honest

HOW HUMANS DO IT: a fish-eye view of sex an Editor's Pick - no kidding
stephanie
Posted: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 7:48:35 PM

Rank: Bohemian

Joined: 1/1/2010
Posts: 4,620
Location: Dublin, Ire., Ireland
RumpleForeskin wrote:
Bottom line is anytime the reader begins to notice your writing instead of the story, odds are you're in trouble.

glasses8


I couldn't agree more...

I'm currently reading, (and enjoying) the much lauded 'Divided Kingdom' by Rupert Thomas. However, the clever bastard doesn't half like to remind us that he has a facility with words. I find it rather distracting.

A shadow falling across a kerb stone: 'like a piece of cardboard folded in two places...'

An awakened father: 'his face had lines and creases on it, as though sleep had crushed him in its fist...'

'... the massed oaks and chestnuts flecked with silver birches, like a head of hair beginning to turn grey.'

I'm not suggesting for a moment that these are not beautiful images, but these three examples all come from the novel's first page. And there are more.

I get it, Rupert, you can write. Now Stop Writing and tell me the fucking story.

xx Steph

"I'm a writer... Honesty is not my first language..." (Stephen Flashman)
Guest
Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 5:56:55 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 473,476
DirtyMartini wrote:


Say what? Speak English in here, will ya?

And I have to agree with MoW...you really should open the door before you go through it...unless, of course, you're doing one of those Superman fanfiction stories...then you might be able to get away with that stuff...happy8


Thanks for pointing that out! Nutbag
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