The Long and Winding Sentence

you broke my sentence

You broke my sentence!

I read an eBook a few days ago called Writing Habit Mastery: How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block by S.J. Scott.

It was a quickie book. I finished it an about an hour. Nothing really earth shattering or new about the book, but it clicked for me. He stressed the importance of putting words on paper every day no matter what. He also pointed out that our inner critic and editor keeps us from committing our thoughts to writing. We get so caught up in correcting and rewording our thoughts that we get hung up in editing and don’t produce.

Scott also stresses the ability to touch type and says if you don’t know how then learn. There are plenty of inexpensive software programs out there for that purpose. Hunting and pecking around the keyboard gets in the way of a fast and free flow of thoughts. I can touch type and with practice I’m getting even better and have almost reached the singularity where I can type as fast as I think. The only reason I don’t now is because I let that little editor devil sitting on my shoulder interrupt my thought with stuff like, “you left a comma out back there, woman. No one is going to take you seriously if you don’t even know how to punctuate.” My goal this week is to learn how to ignore my demons and brain storm my way through my first draft. It may come out as, “tundra…squirrel…candy…murderer…UPS Truck.” So what? That what’s editing is for.  I’m going to take S.J. Scott’s advice and leave the editing until after I finish my first draft.

Another thing Scott said was that Steven King writes 2,000 words every morning and then spends the rest of his day taking care of personal business, napping or whatever. Not sure if this is true or not but it sounds believable. So I said to myself, “hey, if Steven King can produce his copious amounts of books by doing a mere 2,000 words a morning then so can I!.” This statement probably does not make any sense to anyone other than me, but who cares? All I’m after here is what works for me.

I’ve managed the 2,000 words a morning for 4 days in a row now and I feel pretty damned good. 4 days does not a good habit make, but it’s a start.  And it’s much more fun goofing off the rest of the day or taking care of 45 piddly errands when you have a sense of accomplishment under your belt.

And now the topic of editing. I don’t need to read a book about writing to know that EDITING IS IMPORTANT. Merrily skipping over this step is not OK. Mr. Husband and I have been snowed in for the past few days. I ended up using him as a sounding board because he was the only human I had access too. I could have called someone, but they wouldn’t see my arm movements or see me ripping my hair out.

As I work on my writing craft I begin to notice more exactly why a particular passage in a book annoys me instead of just a vague feeling of distaste. Yesterday I was reading a book The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle. My review is that the book is incredible. Possibly the biggest block buster of the century, while at the same time being the worst book I’ve ever read. They could use it as a basis for college classes as an example of how not to construct a sentence. The grammar is so butchered that there were places where I was literally screaming though my teeth. Hubman actually tore himself away from playing Star Wars on the computer to come see if I was OK. I ended up with a huge headache, but still couldn’t put the darn book down.

That being said 5,000+ readers on Amazon rated this book 5 stars so there has to be something to it. There were 120 1 star reviews and most of them were to do with poor grammar, sentence structure and totally unbelievable plot twists, including escaping a monastery in Tibet in a hot air balloon?!? But, then this proves that if readers love a story or author they will overlook a multitude of sins. I’ll keep that in mind when I put my toe in the water. If I had to rate the book I’d say 5 stars for plot and 1 star for sentences and paragraphs that were like nails on a chalkboard.

At one point early in the book I counted the word “had” 6 times in one paragraph. It was in every sentence. The word had was in 1 of the sentences 3 times. The following  made up sentence is an example: Because he got drunk early in the day he had had to change his pants 2 times because he had forgotten to put on his underwear the first time. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be “he was so drunk he forgot to put on his underwear.” OK, maybe it’s just me. I’m no expert. But come on! Many of the common novel-writing programs, like Write it Now and Scrivener have a handy tool that analyses the number of times a particular word shows up in your manuscript. If your novel is 80,000 words and the word had shows up 15,000 times it might be a good idea to rethink sentence construction. Just a thought.

Love you all, and as always, thank you for tuning in to my rants.

9 responses

  1. That was how I felt about The Da Vinci Code… only by the end I really truly hated it and the plot was see-through… another that pissed me off to no end was Bridges of Madison County… bad bad bad… bad writing, bad storytelling. Merely marketable… ugh…
    I used to write 2000 words a day. For years. It was really good, my writing got tighter and tighter and better and better…
    Now I photograph things. It’s kind of working out the same way…

    1. I share you feelings about the Da Vinci Code and don’t even get me started on the Bridges of Madison County. That book was beyond bad and the movie? It took me a good 10 years before I could see a movie with Eastwood or Streep without grinding my teeth together.

      On the other hand I wouldn’t mind writing a book that sells well either. You never know what the collective unconscious decides is all the rage from year to year. I have grey hair now. Maybe I could do a spoof of 50 shades of grey about all the different colors of my hair before I gave up and let it do its own thing.

      Do you take 2,000 pictures a day?

      1. No. One picture is worth 1000 words. But I do average about 25,000 photos/year. Before culling. After culling, About 2,000 really good photos in a year, which is the equivalent of 2,000,000 really good words.
        I feel satisfied.

  2. My fifty shades of grey post I talked about the repeated words. I’ll link you if you’re interested in reading it. I was challenged to write about it, but only made it through part of the book.

    Writing is tough, but a little effort needs to be taken to edit. This week, on my blog, I wrote a post and hit publish instead of save draft. It was mortified because people subscribe through email. I had not edited at all.

    Publishing a book without properly editing would be out of my nightmares.

    x,
    Becca

    1. Sure please do link the post about repeated words. As far as editing, I’ve done that too, the hit post instead of save draft. It seems like it happens when I have the worst draft ever. 🙂

      1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that mistakes the two. Here is the post: http://ladyornot.com/fifty-shades-satire/

        1. oh my God what a hilarious review.

          1. Thanks :). I really try to make people laugh with every post.

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