Most days when I’m working on the manuscript for my latest work in progress, I’m lucky if I write more than a couple of hundred words. For the explanation why, please read on.
Just how much care should you take when constructing a sentence?
A whole lot!
When I first write a sentence, I merely put down my particular thoughts for it, no matter how jumbled the sentence may appear on paper, or on your computer screen, filled as it inevitably is with typos, incorrect punctuation and all.
Then I sit back and take a long hard look at it.
First I fix the typos. Next I cut and paste the various elements within the sentence until it reads logically, while adding or subtracting words where necessary. The next thing to tackle is the thorny problem of punctuation. Too much is as bad as too little.
Here is a sample sentence for you to play around with from my current work in progress – “Goblin Tales for Adults”.
“He perched directly on the front of the desk with one foot deliberately covering the inkwell, hoping to attract Bingle’s attention.”
I originally wrote it as follows:
“He perched on Bingle’s desk, trying to get his attention.”
It was far too concise, with precious little action shown, given the nature of the characters involved; one an intolerant, short tempered old goblin, the other, a mischievous raven.
Have a go for yourselves and include your efforts in the comments box below this post. Don’t worry; you won’t be marked on your efforts – merely smiled at in the nicest possible way, I promise you. Take it from me, to write a sentence correctly needs a lot of thought.
Finally, I would ask you to consider this – any damned fool can dash off several thousand words in a given day. But will it be readable to your longsuffering editor, and your future readers?
I hope this will help to show you just why it is that those of us, who take our craft seriously, spend months of frustration and deep concentration at our computers when writing a story. Take the time to master the humble sentence first folks, before foisting that manuscript upon your editor, who will scrutinise it carefully, and send it back to you with his/her suggestions. The more care you take, the easier it will be for your editor.
As for constructing a believable story scenario, that is a whole different subject for another time.
P.S.: I rewrote this post at least twenty times…