Writing Secrets: Sentences aren’t strong men – don’t overburden them

 In Tips for Writers

I’ve been saying this a great deal to our mentoring participants recently: don’t weigh down your sentences.

Don’t rush to get all you can into one sentence. Slow down, break things up and you’ll milk so much more drama from the scene.

Here’s a sentence I saw in a submission recently. “Razor teeth gnashed together and grazed his thigh as he dropped unbelievably through a gap in the granite, the speed of his fall forcing him into the ground and expelling his breath.”

Great stuff, right? Loads of drama. But when it’s all squashed into one sentence, we lose dramatic effect. Each of those elements has impact, so allow us to feel each of them in turn.

“Razor teeth gnashed together with a clang, like the slam of a prison gate. He edged closer to the wall. There was no escape. The creature gnashed its teeth again, then lunged. A giant incisor grazed his thigh, ripping a thin bloody streak across the flesh. He crept still closer to the wall. Next time it would have him. He shifted as far as he could … and felt a gap. Oh my God, why hadn’t he seen it before? The creature’s teeth bared and it opened its jaws. He pulled one leg over the edge of the gap, then the other. The teeth were bearing down on him. And then he was through. He hit the ground hard and all the breath left his body.”

Isn’t that better? Granted, the first sentence was submitted for an assignment with a strict word count. But this is such a common issue that I thought it worth using to make the point.

Don’t rush the drama, and don’t squash all your dramatic elements into one long sentence.



For some more tips and a little motivation click here to read Richard’s Monday Motivation: The bigger the story, the larger your lens

To book your place on Jo-Anne’s final Creative Saturday of the year, click here


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