Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Snappy, wordy, funky sentences...

Okay so I've been revising for what feels like FOREVER. I am ready to stop, seriously, but I know you have to carve away the absolute crap that is first drafts in order to have a beautiful MS. But in this journey I have discovered that there is a very fine line between snappy and wordy. Shall I give a few examples of what I mean?

These sentences are taken randomly from SECOND SOUL -- feel free to lash me if anything is crazy. Here goes:


  • Not even close.
  • He knew.
  • The door quaked.

  • It crashed shut with a loud bang, and I stumbled back, lost my footing, and fell to the floor.
  • The path itself was concrete, lacking all the grandeur and particularity of the other two paths, and I found myself searching for a way out of this lost land.

Basic (but could be tightened):

  • They rested there like birds in a nest, delicate and peaceful.
  • The final bolt hit in the center of the table.


I find that all too often long sentences lose me about 2/3rds through, yet when well done they are so beautiful to read. Snappy sentences increase the tension, but they can also slow the flow. It is suchy a tricky thing. And I often notice that writers switch between the two without having basic sentences mixed in to keep the pace going. (You can't see me, but I'm raising my hand right now. )

So tell me, do you struggle with one or the other, both? Feel free to chime in or give advice on how to correct the SW syndrome.



  1. I'm a notorious underwriter so writing concise sentences come easy for me. I have to work on sentence variety to make the work stronger. You're right, too much of one thing gets old.

    But I can never really work on it until I have a good working draft. I usually work on this during the last revision phase.

  2. I try to listen to the rhythm--so I read my work out loud at a point. Sometimes that helps :-) Good question!

  3. Karen -- I add in variety at the last revision as well. It kills my creativity if I try too hard during 1st drafts.

    Kenda -- Great point re: reading out loud.