Popping Inflated Sentences

Popping inflated sentences

Popping Inflated Sentences

Sharing my editing and revising process(woes, struggles, and achievements) is one of my favorite types of posts to do. I like to share my woes, mistakes and the things I’ve learned. It’s no secret that I love writing. It’s also no secret that I’m a wordy writer. I embellish and add so much crap to a sentence that is unnecessary. I’m not going to throw a conniption fit about my mistakes, they are easy to fix, and that’s what the editing and revising process are for.

I’ve been rewriting BiaAtlas line by line shortening inflated sentences and taking out repetitive content. Today I’m going to share some actual sentences I found within the first 3 chapters and what I did to fix them. The fixes may not be perfect, but it’s a start.

Original: She was swallowing hard and trying hard not to throw up.

Corrected: She swallowed the urge to throw up.

Those ings get me every time. From 11 down to 7 words and it reads better. 

Original: The boy lies and pretends to be normal, but he is far from normal.

Corrected: The boy is far from the normal he pretends to be.

That sentence was too much normal. 14 down to 11.

Original: While they decided if she would be suitable or not.

Corrected: While they determined her suitability.

Not bad, took that sentence from 10 down to 5. Decide, decided, deciding are filter words. As you can see I highlighted decide and it found decided. I use the search/replace feature to highlight filter words, dependant words(Words I depend on too much) and things like LY and ING. The post Well color me silly explains how I do this(I do plan to revisit that post and add some new content soon). 

This next one is a smidge out of context. The gist is that this is an introspective sentence and the man is thinking about the danger of having loved ones used against him in hostage situations. 

Original: How many times has he seen loved ones used against him? Too many.  (13)

Corrected: Too many times have loved ones been used against him. (10)

I don’t like been or being. They are filter words often used in the introspective narrative. Been has to go.

Corrected: Too often have loved ones been used against him. (9)

Corrected: Loved ones have been used against him often. (8)

Corrected: Loved ones are a hostage liability. (6)

Potentially down from 13 to 6. That’s a win for word count and the new sentence fits far better in the paragraph than the many words of the original.

The point of this is to show how a sentence can be whittled down if the word count is too high. Also, it shows that sentences can be recrafted into something tighter, cleaner and easier on the eyes. 

I’m not going to sit here and say that I catch every crap-loaded sentence, but I do try. The re-write is difficult because it is line by line. It takes time, patience and quiet to think and concentrate.

My advice about whittling popping inflated sentences
Take your time to recognize an inflated sentence. Use the find and search feature to highlight common filter words, adverbs (LY), clichés, jargon, and garbage words you rely on or often repeat in a sentence. This will help make the problem sentences noticeable.

-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/your-daily-word-prompt-conniption-august-21st-2018/ 

 

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Capitalization Space Case – Style #2

Capitalization Space Case

I had a count of 127 errors in Style. Most of them were Unclear Antecedent’s which I covered in the last blog. If you missed a previous blog, you can click on the purple link here that is crossed out to see that blog post. I’m not sure how I can fit the word prompt in for today’s post. I don’t own a dog of any pedigree nor do I buy pedigree dog food. Oh well, I’ll just continue with today’s post about my editing and revising fun.

Within STYLE are the following issues I had in my story:

1. Unclear Antecedent .
2. Capitalization at the start of a sentence
3. Incorrect Spacing
4. Incorrect Spacing with punctuation
5. Incorrect verb form
6. Inflated Phrase
7. Wordiness
8. Nominalization

I’m going to cover three STYLE issues on this blog since they are simple and most likely typo’s. These are easy to spot and easy to fix.

Capitalization at the start of a sentence
Incorrect Spacing
Incorrect Spacing with punctuation

All the examples are real and from my new book Prophecy (Names may be changed for example purposes). I took one sentence an put all three errors in it. The error notice from Grammarly is condensed on the right and can each be expanded, which I will show before the corrections.

111aFirst is Capitalization at the start of a sentence a simple grammar rule, but easily done by a typo. All spell check programs even word processors should catch this one. Heck, even I caught them when I proofread.

111b

Ray had to get back to work. There was an angry man  in a hardhat and safety vest was calling him .

Next is Incorrect Spacing. Another easy one to spot unless it’s at the beginning of a sentence or after punctuation. They might not show them as an error but are easily spotted by a proofread.
111c

Ray had to get back to work. There was an angry man  in a hardhat and safety vest was calling him .

The last is Incorrect Spacing with punctuation. This will be caught if it’s before or in the middle of punctuation. Extra spaces after a period are not always caught by programs because some people still write with double spaces. Single space at the end of a sentence is industry standard.

111d

Ray had to get back to work. There was an angry man in a hardhat and safety vest was calling him.

There the sentence is now correct. I know these are rookie mistakes and I know I make them because I’m not an accurate typer and my brain goes faster than I can type. That’s okay, it’s foolish to think I’m perfect, I don’t.

My advice about capitalization at the start of a sentence, incorrect spacing and incorrect spacing with punctuation:

Simple errors to make and simple to fix. No big deal. They are however important, if they show up in a manuscript that is submitted to a literary agent, it will very likely get your query tossed into the NO pile.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved
Pedigree

The Little Details

As I make my way through my second edit between living my life, I’ve noticed something is missing.

The little details.

I’m missing the little details. I have people dressed but in what? I have people entering a room but it’s empty. I have people in a car that was never described and dancing to music that isn’t acknowledged.

This is a bad thing, but it’s expected. When I write my original draft, I tend to skip the little details in favor of writing the story. My fingers fly across the keyboard and because they can’t keep up with what I want to say, the little details are left out. This isn’t always the case but it does happen. There will be naysayers out there that say “if you can’t write it properly the first time you’re not a good writer.”  Boo to them. Naysayers will do anything to bring me down and I don’t care what they say.

This book is so much fun and it’s very fast-paced. It happens in under two weeks. Because of the pace and excitement level, I did skip a lot of little details.

I don’t see this as a problem, now I have the opportunity to go back and fix what’s missing with a calm mind.

For example:

Original:

I rushed to get dressed and ran down the stairs to the busy street. I skipped my morning coffee. I would get one from the franchise near the office.

I hurriedly walked the six blocks north and dodged people too busy to care that they were in my way.

This needs some work. Now you don’t know the character or why she’s rushing, that’s not important for this example. Because word count is of little concern this time around, I can embellish without worry.

Corrected:

There was no thought to the grey pencil skirt I slipped over my hips nor the powder blue blouse I fumbled to button. I tore a pair of stockings in my haste and cursed until I had my blue flats on my feet.

After nearly tripping down my apartment stairs out to the busy street, I elected to skip my usual morning coffee from the little shop across the street. I needed to get to the office six blocks north. The sunny morning was an exercise in dodging people too busy to care that they were in my way.

Now she’s wearing specific clothes because this story is fast paced I try to keep track of what each character is wearing by having a day summary for each day in the story.

When putting in details like skipping the coffee, it’s an opportunity to set the mood for later or a moment when she might go to get one elsewhere. When editing it is easy to put in small details that can have a big impact. They are foreshadow’s on a small scale.

Finding the missed details can be a challenge, I’ll often have others read my story and let me know when they can’t imagine what a character’s wearing or doing or where they are exactly.

My advice about little details.
Fit them in without listing them off, have the character interact with the object or space you’re describing. Whether you put them in from the start or later when you edit, don’t forget to mention what kind of coffee someone is sipping.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Other posts about details

Details, details, details

She’s a person not a cake

Dancing

Distracted By Distraction

Time is always an issue for me. Finding it to write and really get into it. Somedays I can plug along and find the simple errors others I can dig in and really get to the meat of some problems.

I’m in the middle of BiaAtlas re-write and it’s going well. My word count is coming down slowly but steadily.

When I’m writing there are several things that can cause me to become distracted or lose focus. Not all of them are bad and often they can be a reminder to take a well needed or deserved break.

Other people – It’s important to remember there are real living people in the world 😉
Television
The weather
My own thoughts – yes this is a real problem sometimes
Other projects (I have a new storyline I’m in the beginning stages of plotting)
Sleepy or tired – sometimes it’s just hard to stay focused on anything.
Work – this one is a necessity… but still…
Cleaning or chores
Reading

There are other distractions that I don’t have time for and have suffered for it such as video games and Facebook. The bottom line is there will always be distractions and I don’t freak out about them. I’ve talked about this before but I think if I’m being distracted there might be a reason for it.

The funniest distraction is the distraction by distraction. When I’m distracted simply by thinking about being distracted.

When I sit and start to work on editing my book it can be overwhelming. I’ve been through it countless times, I’m probably missing things right in front of me because I’ve been through it countless times. I have a plan for that and I’ll dive into that plan in a later post once I’ve done enough research to explain it properly.

For now, it’s one objective at a time seek out and destroy superfluous text and simplify. I’m on the hunt for repetition of ideas, phrases, comments, actions, descriptions, and anything I’ve mentioned more than once.

I will keep at it and keep my self-inflicted symphony of distractions to a minimum while addressing the important ones, the ones that tell me I need a real break. After all, a distraction is only a distraction if we need to be distracted.

My advice about distractions
Don’t ignore that you’re being distracted and figure out why it’s happening. Maybe take a break or do something random to reset your attention. Distractions are not always a bad thing.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Squirrelly concentration at best

More is less, and vice versa.

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Symphony

Dashing Dashes

This will be the last re-post as my Vacation time winds down.  I picked this one at random, for no reason whatsoever.

Dashing Dashes

I recently mentioned the use of ellipses. Used in dialogue sometimes they are erroneously used in place of what should actually be a dash.

What’s the difference? Good question.

Ellipses… are three consecutive dots that generally indicate words, sentences or entire sections are being left out.

Dashes – indicate dialogue, speech or something is being interrupted or cut off. A dash is the punctuation. No periods, question marks or exclamation points are used.

Example time:

The tone is set by punctuation.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think…”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

In that example, Dale comes across unsure or hesitant. That is not the tone I want to portray. Let me try again with a dash.

Dale crossed his arms and scowled. “I don’t think-”

“No, you don’t think Dale. That’s the entire problem.” Scott waved his hand dismissively at Dale. 

I wanted Scott to cut Dale off rudely. Scott is slipping and I want his rude factor to go up. With Ellipses, Scott was just mean-ish. With a dash, he was both rude and mean.

In some circumstances, I’ll make the cut off more obvious.

Amber handed Rachael the Envelope. “I need you to go down to-”
Rachael flicked her hand cutting Amber off. “I know where to take the Quill Company proofs.” She snatched the paper from Amber’s hand.

I just love making mean people mean. In Rachael’s case, she has just cause to dislike Amber and be short with her. Both Amber and Rachael’s lifestyles, attitudes and personalities conflict. Not all cut off’s are a personality flaw, in this moment Rachael is annoyed with Amber, she’s not usually rude in this manner.

Some programs such as *Word or *Microsoft Office don’t allow dashes in dialogue. When this happens I leave the punctuation out, cap it off with the quotation mark and manually go back to add the dash.

“I think we should-“  “ mark is curled the wrong way!  Ugh. Word automatically does this and it drives me bonkers. I go back and fix it manually.
“I think we should”   “I think we should-”

Maybe I’m missing a setting or something, maybe not. I’ll probably end up looking into it. While this manual fix is not efficient, it works for me. Like with all good things I would probably pick one character that might lean on this rude behavior as a quirk. A foreshadow of their true selves. Arguments are a good place to use them or for a character to make a point by cutting someone off.

My advice about Dashes.
They are an abrupt interruption, not a trailing off. Be careful who you have rudely interrupting conversation. Too much might make everyone come across as a jerk.

-Sheryl

Other  posts

The jerk-face warrior

Glance back to look forward

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Lifestyle

Quill

What Did You Mean? – Re-blog

Still in vacation mode and don’t want to be tethered to my computer. Therefore I’m sharing another blog that was posted a long time ago. Don’t worry my people watching opportunities have given me some ideas for new posts that I will write and post soon.

What Did You Mean?

I have read stories and books that miss one very important thing. Setting up an emotionally charged statement before it happens.  When I’m reading dialogue it can be frustrating to get to the end of a sentence only to discover my inner-voice was way off on the tone that the character was meant to be speaking in. I call this emotional tone delay. I read said dialogue, find out the tone I imagined was wrong then have to either read it or mentally replay it in the correct tone.  If it happens too often I like the book less and less and less.

How it sounds in my head as the writer isn’t necessarily the way it sounds in the readers. This is why it is so important to create a welcoming world for the reader to jump into. Show them tone and emotion instead of bludgeoning them with a tag.

“Really?” Amber said with excitement.

By putting the tag at the end, what ‘voice’ I read that in was voided. As a reader that can be annoying and then all voices sound out deadpan and the emotion is applied after the fact. It makes for some terrible visualization and fantasy.

Amber grinned and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Really?” 

Sarcasm is often lost in print if I want to convey a tone of voice shows the tone by posturing the character. My rule I’ve adopted from others: Don’t get lazy and tell the tone.

“Really?” Dale said sarcastically.  

Set it up properly so the reader knows it’s sarcasm or tags it with an appropriate action.

Dale inhaled slowly. “Really?” He rolled his eyes.

Creating the tone before the character speaks is important. This can be as long as a paragraph or as short as a few words. Setting the reader up for a smooth transition to the words lets them enjoy the story without having to “re-hear” it in their head before moving on.  So what happens if the set up is the wrong emotion conveying action?

Scott tilted his head to the side. “Really?” 

That could be humor, anger, annoyance, sarcasm or maybe tease. Normally in a story, there would be leading up to a statement like that. But I’ll pretend there isn’t and Scott’s statement is the start of the conversation or scenario. While tilting the head can convey emotion it is often a quirk or habit that without context could mean anything.

Scott crossed his arms, tilted his head to the side with his brow furrowed. “Really?”

Sure it get’s wordy, however, if I really want to show the reader how Scott feels then I will make it work. I might even take the head tilting out unless I have that as Scott’s quirk. I wouldn’t want everyone going around gesturing the same way.

Scott tilted his head to the side as a sly grin spread across his face. “Really?”

Scott’s head tilted to the side as he stifled a snicker. “Really?”

Scott’s fist slammed on the table then he tilted his head. “Really?”

If the tone isn’t foreshadowed by action before the statement, the reader will likely project their own emotion into it. That may or may not work out and may or may not put them off the story which in turn will mean devastation for the review and reader’s opinion of the story and author.  I can write words and have my own idea how they are supposed to sound, but if I don’t let the reader in on it, then I’ve let them down.

My advice about acting out emotion.
I do this to keep the reader engaged, I highly recommend it. Don’t let the reader decide what ‘vocal’ tone the characters are using, show them so the meaning behind the word isn’t lost. After all, you don’t want a character to move when you mean swoon. 

-Sheryl

A post or two from a while back.

Squirrelly concentration at best

Time to take out the trash

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Tether

Stuck On Repeat

I write because I love to. I write because I want people to read and love what I write. I want to draw them to my stories and characters like a magnet, not repel them. When I write a longer story with multiple chapters I often get stuck on repeat. Not in a major way, but in a way that might annoy the reader. It’s something I do, it’s awfully tempting to do and it happens easily. Repeating information.

Whether it’s right away or scattered throughout the story I often find myself repeating information. It may not be exactly as it was the first time, but it’s the same. Sigh.

It’s not always necessary to repeat information but it might feel that way.

There are numerous reasons that an author might repeat information.

Problem: Worry that the reader will forget.

Solution: I try to give the reader more credit. If you I repeat make it worth their while. A subtle reminder might do the trick better than tossing it in their face.

Problem: Worry that the detail will be lost.

Solution: I try to make the first presentation of the detail memorable. This can be done with humor, beautiful prose or have it stand out. 

Problem: The writer forgets how many times the subject came up.

Solution: Revise, revise, revise.  I’ll revise it myself and have someone else revise it too. (Make sure they are honest about revision)

Problem: The writer wants to be doubly sure the reader “gets it”.

Solution: Either they do or don’t the first time around. If they didn’t perhaps you need to revise the delivery of the point/description

Problem: Worry that the reader will forget.

Solution: I try to give the reader more credit. If you I repeat make it worth their while. A subtle reminder might do the trick better than tossing it in their face. 😉 

Basically, I try to find these repeated details whether they are as small as a physical description or something plot important. If I find too many I’ll go back to the first incident and do what I can to improve it so I don’t need to repeat.

Now sometimes information needs to be hashed out more than once, I get it, I have such tidbits in my own book, but I do try to at least make that repeat interesting for the reader by either mixing it with new information or delivering it in a more interesting and clever way.

My advice about being stuck on repeat.
Re-read this post and remember you won’t need to beat the reader over the head with important information if you deliver it well the first time. 

-Sheryl

Other posts

Awkwardly awkward

It’s a love hate sort of thing

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 

 

Magnet

Fragmented Sentence Fragments

Sentences can be complex things or simple things. It depends on what there is to say. Believe it or not, a sentence can go awry. It can become fragmented, broken, miss-punctuated, run on and more.

So what is a basic complete sentence?

Well there are three components required to complete a full sentence. It must express a complete thought so we know what the sentence is about. The sentence must have action in the form of a verb. A sentence must have a subject. A sentence must have a thing or object that the sentence is about.

That is the basic sentence. They can also contain several objects, Adjectives or adverbs and dependent clauses.

I have recently come to terms with the fact I often fragment my sentences. When I write quickly, I get excited and type too fast. This causes the technical aspects of writing fall to the wayside. Like all the time.

Editing and revision always help find and fix these little blunders.

So what exactly is a sentence fragment? Most word programs will underline said fragmented sentence with a blue line but often there is no explanation or suggested solution. It simply says Fragment (Consider reversing).

A sentence is a group of words where the first starts with a capitol and the last is followed by a period. If the sentence is fragmented, it looks like a sentence but is grammatically correct. All the words should work together or join with another sentence to make it complete.

How does one define a sentence fragment?

A sentence fragment does not express a complete thought.

Example:

1. Amber is.  (The thought is missing. What is she?)

Correction: Amber is bored.

2. Blowing Bubbles. (The subject is missing. Who or what is blowing bubbles?)

Correction: Amber is blowing bubbles.

3. A red rose. (The action is missing. What about it? Is the rose doing something? Does it smell? Was picked? What is that rose doing? Or what is someone doing with it?)

Correction: Amber smells a red rose.

4. And she stopped at the park. (‘and’ is a dependent clause. It needs to be attached to an independent clause.)

Correction:  Amber went for a walk and stopped at the park.

5. Since she hates celery. (I’m messing with the clauses again… oops. Since is like and, and needs an independent clause.)

Correction: Amber won’t eat the crisp greens since she hates celery.

Each sentence was corrected by adding a verb, a subject, completing the thought or joining the dependent clause with an independent clause.

One more example:

6.  Rachael often working late on Friday nights. Because she has too much work and tasks to complete.

Ugh gross. There are two easy ways to fix this.

Join sentences.

Rachael often works late Friday nights, because she has too much work and too many tasks to complete.

Complete each fragmented sentence.

Rachael often works late on Friday nights. There is too much work and too many tasks to complete.

I find that most of these are found during editing and revision. If not by eye then when I read them aloud to myself. Fragmented sentences often don’t sound right.

My advice about fragmented sentences.
(Yes, I know ‘My advice about fragmented sentences.’ is a fragmented sentence. Therefore, I suppose it should read… Here is my advice about fragmented sentences. There.

-Sheryl

Other posts

How did that sound?

A chance moment

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 

Crisp

Unspoken Dialogue

I write in the present day/somewhat future. Technology plays a part of our everyday no matter what we do. Computers, cellphones and anything else you can think of. I talk a lot about dialogue. What about unspoken dialogue? By that, I mean in the form of Text messages and emails or even a hand written note or letter (Yes people still do this).

Once I’ve established your dialogue style, I stick with it. I personally always use “Double” quotations with curly ends (Unless my blog changes it for some reason). Keep this in mind for my how-to-text-in-a-story examples.

I have read numerous books with both texting and emails in them. The presentation or content is obviously up to the writer. I would caution with over doing it however. Too much is a total turn off. A very popular (Though I don’t know why) book series I read had a lot of back and forth emails going on. With every single email, the author included the formal intro, message and the full and complete signature.  The signature was altered each time and was meant to be cute, but after the third one I got bored/annoyed and hated reading them. I do believe there was a significant amount of eye rolling going on.

If you are pursuing professional or traditional publishing, they will have a set standard to which they want this type of text displayed. Don’t worry about it, as long as you keep it clear and as close to what they are looking for.

Here are the rules I personally follow when writing a text or email in a story. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, feel free to let me know what yours might be.

Make sure the dialogue stands out from regular text. (Quotation marks)
Use this in place of something happening – the ‘review’ type dialogue
Keep the font size of the text the same as the regular text. 12pt is industry standard.
Keep the text from blending into the narrative
Avoid being overly repetitive (Don’t forget dialogue/conversation counts rambling sucks)
Use Italics
Treat it like dialogue
Identify the sender of the message
Use the alternate quotation marks for texts (I’ll couple this with italic)
Indent from regular text(I don’t always bother it’s not necessary)
Dialogue tags and proper lead ups to identify the text/email

Alternate fonts can be used. However, the industry standard (North America) is Garamond or Times New Roman. Alternate fonts may stand out but may not be the best choice. (Publishers will decide ultimately anyway)
It can make it narrative if writing in first person or it can leave it out and hint at it.

Example time.

Amber glanced at the screen to read the text from Dale.
Running late.
She replied. ‘CU soon.

“Sorry I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone.
           Running late
She sighed after she read the message from Dale.

“Sorry Scott I have to check this.” Amber said and glanced at her cellphone. “Looks like Dale’s going to be late. He didn’t say why.”

I looked down at my phone as it chimed indicating I had a text. Dale’s going to be late again and as usual, he didn’t say why.

Amber looked at the screen waiting for the response from Dale. When it chimed she nearly dropped it.
      Running late.
“Ugh be more specific.” She muttered as she replied.
      How long?

I simply prefer the look of italic as an identifier.

Emails are different, they definitely need a lead up and introduction.(nobody reads an email before seeing who it’s from.) As I mentioned before they really do need to have a purpose to the story. Without purpose they may come across as lame or filler. IMO.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale. 

From: Dale@CliftonInc.com
To: Amber@CliftonInc.com
Subject: Today
Urgent

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. By the way, they look good. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

Sincerely,
Dale Engleheart
Design & Revision Department Supervisor
Clifton Advertising & Design Inc.
Phone: 1-800-555-1234
Fax: 515-555-1235
-It’s not in the design if it’s not in the designer. – Anonymous

Now imagine a string of emails and every single one had that introduction, signature and sign off? Ugh. Talk about adding filler to bump up word count. It can look like this, everyone knows what email looks like.

Amber set her herbal tea down and sat at her desk. She turned her computer on and opened the email marked urgent from Dale.

Hey Amber,

Got in early, I’m heading to an impromptu meeting with Valery. Sounds urgent… as urgent as she can be.

The proofs you need are already on your desk in the to-do box. They look good by the way. Valery has noticed your efforts. This project is a challenge but, you’ve got this!

Scott is in a mood this morning. You might want to avoid him today.

-Dale

If I feel the need to add the signature etc, then I’ll do so, it’s not a rule or anything either way. If I felt the need to add it I might, on the first one… Or the first of the that particular string of them, then never again.

My advice about nonverbal dialogue.
Whatever way you decide to identify nonverbal dialogue from regular dialogue, make sure to keep it consistent. Keep an example or your rules for this easy to access so if you go eight chapters without a text you can reference it to keep it in the same style.

-Sheryl

Other dialogue posts

Hold your tongue!

Creative Dialogue Tags

Shhh… Don’t say a word.

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Pursue