Perhaps he should have written: Take the last thing he wrote, in his hospital notebook: It gets its power from the tension between the ease of its phrasing and the shock of its thought slid cleanly into the mind. A sentence, as it proceeds, is a paring away of options. But even up to the last word the writer has choices and can throw in a curveball. A sentence can begin in one place and end in another galaxy, without breaking a single syntactic rule.
A memorable sentence makes immediate sense but sounds just slightly odd. The model Kate Moss , once asked for her motto, replied: Skinny, usually an adjective, is here turned into an abstract noun, paired with another abstract noun, nothing. And yet skinny is also quasi-concrete, because where it lies in the sentence suggests that it can actually be felt, just as food has a taste. But feels also retains its non-sensuous sense of intuiting or experiencing something: Reality has shifted a little and then clicked back into place.
A sentence is much more than its literal meaning. They look straight past the words into the meaning that they have strong-armed into them.
Step 1: Nail-down a winning story idea.
They fasten on content and forget about form — forgetting that content and form are the same thing, that what a sentence says is the same as how it says it. A sentence must be felt by the reader, and a feeling is something that grows and fades like anything else that is alive. A line of words should unfold in space and time, not reveal itself all at once, for the simple reason that it cannot be read all at once.
His sentences puzzle out their purposes in allusive phrases that hold the attention briefly before the next phrase takes to the floor. They flaunt their learning but revel in the loose-fitting ligatures of speech and thought. It brings together judgment and gentleness, reason and passion, acerbity and receptivity. You can actually see him working it all out in front of you on the page, as each sentence moves and gathers force under the prickling itch of the moment — as if he is scrabbling his way towards a beautiful truth just beyond reach. Her serpentine sentences, held loosely together with dashes and commas, catch the butterfly restiveness of the human mind, and the evanescence of human life, as they come up against the more solid surfaces of the world.
Agents and editors can tell within the first two pages whether your manuscript is worthy of further consideration. That sounds unfair, and maybe it is. Because they can almost immediately envision how much editing would be required to make those first couple of pages publishable. For my full list and how to use them, click here. Imagine engaging a mentor who can help you sidestep all the amateur pitfalls and shave years of painful trial-and-error off your learning curve.
Many masquerade as mentors and coaches but have never really succeeded themselves. Look for someone widely-published who knows how to work with agents, editors, and publishers.
How to ‘just write’ – The Writing Cooperative
There are many helpful mentors online. I teach writers through this free site, as well as in my members-only Writers Guild. Want to save this definitive guide to read later? Click here or below to download a handy PDF version: Struggling with knowing how to write a book?
How to write the perfect sentence
Tell me in the comments and feel free to ask questions. Before you go, be sure to grab my FREE guide: How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps. Just tell me where to send it: But what if you knew exactly: My goal here is to offer you that plan. Assemble your writing tools. Break the project into small pieces. Settle on your BIG idea. Set a firm writing schedule. Establish a sacred deadline. Start calling yourself a writer. Find your writing voice. Write a compelling opener. Fill your story with conflict and tension. Turn off your internal editor while writing the first draft.
Persevere through The Marathon of the Middle. Write a resounding ending. Become a ferocious self-editor. Want to download this step guide so you can read it whenever you wish? Establish your writing space. What were you saying about your setup again? We do what we have to do. And those early days on that sagging couch were among the most productive of my career.
Real writers can write anywhere. Scrivener users know that taking the time to learn the basics is well worth it. So, what else do you need? Get the best computer you can afford, the latest, the one with the most capacity and speed. How to Start Writing a Book 3. An old adage says that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a tim e.
Try to get your mind off your book as a or-so-page monstrosity. So keep it simple. To be book-worthy, your idea has to be killer.
Go for the big concept book. Run it past loved ones and others you trust. Does it raise eyebrows? Or does it result in awkward silences? What separates great nonfiction from mediocre?
Ideally, you want to schedule at least six hours per week to write. I used the phrase carve out above for a reason. But beyond that, the truth is that we all find time for what we really want to do. A favorite TV show? An hour of sleep per night? Be careful with this one; rest is crucial to a writer. Successful writers make time to write. Without deadlines, I rarely get anything done. I need that motivation.
How to ‘just write’
Admittedly, my deadlines are now established in my contracts from publishers. Tell your spouse or loved one or trusted friend. Ask that they hold you accountable. Say you want to finish a page manuscript by this time next year. You read that right. The secret is to accept it and, in fact, schedule it. So, knowing procrastination is coming, book it on your calendar. How can I procrastinate and still meet more than deadlines?
Because I keep the deadlines sacred. Eliminate distractions to stay focused. Are you as easily distracted as I am? The answer to these insidious timewasters? Fiction means more than just making up a story. My favorite research resources are: These alone list almost everything you need for accurate prose: For my novels, I often use these to come up with ethnically accurate character names. Are you a writer? The Writing Itself Every decision you make about your manuscript must be run through this filter.
Reader-first, last, and always. Like slang, they date the piece who says "suck the milk of nations" anymore? Change be verbs, such as is, was, are, were, am, and being, to active verbs. For example, don't write, "She was tired. It's okay to use prepositional phrases, but don't list several in a row. For example, don't say, "The cyborg climbed on the molding above the staircase along the wall beside the throne. Keep your vocabulary simple. While lengthy and flowing prose have their place, often clear and simple is the best technique. Avoid using jargon or big words just to sound professional or authoritative.
Often, that has the opposite effect. Overly complicated writing can also confuse your audience. Take a look at these examples from Hemingway and Faulkner. Which is easier to follow? He felt sleepy himself. It was too hot to go out into the town. Besides there was nothing to do.
He wanted to see Zurito. Use verbs to move your sentence. A well-placed verb will make a sentence dazzle and keep it free from excessive adjectives. Build your sentence using strong verbs whenever possible. You can enhance the sentence and be more specific by introducing a new verb. Pay attention to verb voice. In a sentence written with active voice, the subject performs the action e. In passive voice, the subject receives the action e. Use active voice whenever possible as a rule of thumb. If passive voice is standard in your field, follow those conventions.
Use figurative language for effect in creative pieces. Figurative language includes devices like simile, metaphor , personification, hyperbole, allusion, and idiom. Use figurative language sparingly for effect.
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- How to write the perfect sentence.
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Hyperbole, for instance, can make your writing explode off the page. Another example of figurative language is personification, which lends human attributes to non-human things. Choose your punctuation carefully. Punctuation helps us understand different word arrangements mean. Punctuation should be present and fluid but not attention-grabbing. People make the mistake of trying to get punctuation do too much, be flashy, or call attention to itself. Focus on how your punctuation impacts the flow of your writing, not on using as many commas as you can. People don't often exclaim things; nor do sentences often merit exclamation.
The sentence already states that Jamie is excited. Maybe try to listen to some music that suits the scene you want to write for example some love ballad for romance scenes or hard rock for fight scenes and listen to the song's lyrics. Reading books or short stories about the setting might help, too. You have to try out different things, but there's always loads of options. Use the world around you to inspire you.
Not Helpful 0 Helpful I try to use metaphors and similes; however, sometimes the writing looks very stuffed and deliberate. How to avoid this effect? This will improve with practice and a reflective, self-critical eye.
Try not to self-edit too much as you compose, as this can stifle your creativity and keep you from generating material. Afterwards, review your writing. Delete any flowery or excessive figurative language, trying to keep similes and metaphors to a bare minimum. Work on including strong, precise verbs and specific nouns to give your text a cleaner, lighter feel and look. Not Helpful 1 Helpful 9. Try to use a range of adjectives, but not too many. If you were describing anger, you could put something like, "I clenched my fists, scowling.
Not Helpful 0 Helpful 5. My biggest problem is that I move the story forward too much. I jump from one event to the next without good explanation. The sentences also seem bland, and lack creativity in my opinion. I did exactly the same thing, and I believe that the trick is to focus on one event at a time. Say you were writing a story about a princess getting rescued from a tower original, I know , but you want the princess to fall in love with the prince, while also loving her parents who imprisoned her there, and she didn't know what to do.
Focus on her emotions to start with, confused, in love, etc. Then move to the major problem: Will she run away? Figure out how it's going to happen and then map out how the story will move from Point A to Point B. Don't write a word of your story until you've got a plan. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 3. Is it possible to be redundant intentionally for a purpose? Like the boringness in a math class?
Redundancy, when used wisely, can be an intentional literary tool. It's effective in creating surrealism or a sense of disbelief. However, it's a tricky one to master so it's generally best for writers, especially novice writers, to avoid it. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1. A memo should be clear, concise, and about a single subject. When you write your memo, try to be as clear and specific as possible.
Make sure your organization knows who the memo applies to, why it's being sent out, and what, if any, actions need to be taken. If I have a story all planned out but then I realize it's taken, what should I do to avoid copying? There are only so many ideas, plots are more or less repeated over and over again. Try changing a few things up, such as changing the setting or a few characters until you've got something original.
Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips Find a comfortable place to write. Different locations might lend themselves to different activities.