Thursday, June 28, 2012
Constructive Sentence Traps
As he stepped through the front door, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. OR: Stepping through the front door, he wondered if he was doing the right thing.
I still get caught in AS, ING construction traps, especially in first drafts. And then I hope to notice them myself or rely on my trusty CP's to point them out. :D
There is nothing wrong with either sentence per se, but they can definitely be written stronger. Both of these sentences take a bit of action and tuck it into a dependent clause, which weakens your writing. It makes the action seem once removed.
Instead: He stepped through the front door. Was he doing the right thing? Or: He stepped through the front door. He hoped against hope he was doing the right thing.
According to the book, SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS, by Renni Brown and Dave King, moving away from those legitimate constructions will make your writing stronger and more sophisticated.
Here's another example the book uses:
Ripping off several large, dripping hunks of burrito, she pulled up a chair to the kitchen table and took a large bite (is all of that even possible to do, together?). As she chewed, she wondered who she was maddest at. Clark, she decided.
She pulled up a chair to the kitchen table and took a large bite of the burrito she'd found behind the milk and orange juice bottles (better details take the place of the weak construction). Who was she maddest at? Probably Clark.
Do you get caught in these traps?