In Search of Good Sentences

Val MillsStarred Page By Val Mills, 15th Feb 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3kjwbyv6/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

Good writers continue to seek ways to improve. Here is the beginning of one writer's journey of self-improvement, with writing tips that will hopefully help other writers..

Responding to the Wikinut Moderate Writing Challenge

Many readers will have read Peter Giblett's recent article, A Moderate Writing Challenge for 2013. There's nothing like a challenge to spur us on to improve our writing, even if the only reward is improved writing and content.
Peter provided us with quite a list we may like to consider, areas where our own writing could be improved. The best way to improve is taking one step at a time and I recognised immediately what I wanted to work on - constructing powerful sentences.
First drafts of most of my writing are inclined to be rather passive, peppered with the weak verbs, 'to be' and 'to have.' It would save a lot of editing time if I managed to write correctly in my first draft, instead of writing and re-writing to achieve the required result.
So, for the immediate future my improvement focus centres on sentences, improving one at a time. I need to consider how to produce more effective sentences. After all, without sentences a piece of writing doesn't get created.

Accessing Expert Information

Plenty of useful information exists online and in books, enabling writers to follow the path of self-improvement. Peter's article mentions one course available online and other sources of help are easy to find.
My personal favourite for sentence improvement lies in a little book I own, written by an Australian author Mark Treadinnick, called 'The Little Red Writing Book.' I plucked this readable book off my shelf and started on my path of sentence awareness.
Mark provides many wonderful tips on writing in his book. So far I've re-read only the first chapter, but already reminders leap from the pages. I anticipate an enjoyable learning journey.

Writer's Digest Four Commandments for Sentence Writing

The idea of four commandments for good sentence writng, as provided by Writers Digest, appeals to me. The whole article can be accessed at http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/business-legal-matters/sentence-sleuth-0608 but in brief the four commandments state the following:
- you shall not write passively
-you shall not overuse weak verbs like 'to be' and 'to have'
-you shall not fluff
-you shall make every word necessary
I'm prone to breaking all four commandments and now commit to making positive changes.

Improving sentences one at a time.

From my reading, the general tip is to concentrate on improving one sentence at a time. I'm giving myself permission to write freely in first drafts, before returning to use my new knowledge on polishing each sentence.
I'm not expecting instant results and I'm sure I'll stray from my path from time to time. The only way to improve is to write plenty of sentences, hoping I improve with each one.
Several sentences in this piece of writing read better now after a little editing. Readers will no doubt be quick to point out others I should have worked on. I accept that. My son keeps reminding me, good things take time. I shall monitor my improvement one step at a time.
Thank you Peter for challenging us all to improve our writing, for the benefit of everyone.

More about writing by Val Mills:
Writers Should Never Leave Home Without Their Notebook
Writing Online Content: Is the Criticism Valid?
Writers are Real People
Why Choosing a Writing Site is Like Choosing a Hairdresser

Tags

Self Improvement, Valmnz, Wikinut, Writers Digest, Writing Challenge, Writing Strong Sentences, Writing Tips

Meet the author

author avatar Val Mills
Self-published writer, coffee drinker, enjoying life. Also found at
writingyourstories.wordpress.com and http://downatthebaths.blogspot.co.nz/

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Comments

author avatar Songbird B
16th Feb 2013 (#)

Excellent article as always Val, and a reminder of just how much we can improve on our writing skills..A great Star page my friend..

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author avatar Val Mills
16th Feb 2013 (#)

Thanks Songbird. I'm a lazy writer when producing my first drafts!

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
16th Feb 2013 (#)

I tend to have too many long run-on sentences and over use the comma, my wife often "edits" my articles because I get so caught up in writing and too lazy to proof read.

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author avatar Val Mills
16th Feb 2013 (#)

Thanks Mark. I certainly came to understand the need for editing when my school memoir book was in the publishing process. Writing is the fun part.

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author avatar Vartika
16th Feb 2013 (#)

Thanks Val Mills. Whenever I come across an interesting sentence/s, I re-read it and enjoy it. Well constructed sentences can beautify the thoughts and make is compact too. Thanks again.

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author avatar Val Mills
16th Feb 2013 (#)

There's no doubt about it Vartka, a well written sentence stands out on its own. Thanks for commenting.

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author avatar Buzz
16th Feb 2013 (#)

I have yet to improve my language expression and sentence construction. Thanks for the star page, Val.

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author avatar Val Mills
16th Feb 2013 (#)

Thanks Buzz, I think most of us can work on improving our sentences. Nice to see you here

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author avatar Carol
16th Feb 2013 (#)

This is avery interesting article Val. I feel that I learn something new about writing every day. My main faultin sentences is repeating the same word again.

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author avatar Val Mills
17th Feb 2013 (#)

Oh Carol, I know that feeling. My writing group used to always pull me up about it and i'm not so bad now.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Feb 2013 (#)

Yes, it takes time and patience but we should try our best to improve on an ongoing basis. It is only fair to the reader who is pressed for time too. Thanks for the tips, Val - siva

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author avatar Delicia Powers
17th Feb 2013 (#)

Wonderful and very helpful advice, many thanks Val...:0)

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
25th Feb 2013 (#)

great advice Val...thank you so much....

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author avatar Kingwell
27th Feb 2013 (#)

Good article.

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author avatar Retired
6th Mar 2013 (#)

Good tips! :)

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