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Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby glorybee » Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:16 am

judi wrote:What a workout! I chose "Not So Extra", honoring my Hungarian Gram. A few sentences lacked appropriate sentence structure, as you will note. I used short sentences to dramatically twirl around the oh-so-long sentences that I love to toy with. This article suffers under the weight of 750 words, 65 sentences and 29 short to almost nonexistent sentences.

I would love to think she inspired me to Godly living.

No.

Gram was a kleptomaniac.

Not so extra.

I chose these sentences to characterize Gram with her own words.


Judi, these are all good examples of using short sentences to enhance your voice. I even like the intentional sentence fragment of Not so extra. Some day, I may even build a lesson around sentence fragments.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:28 pm

Jan,

You've discussed 2 concepts—simple sentences and short sentences. So, when I tried to write a pithy sentence, I tried to make my sentence simple, in addition to keeping it less than 10 words. Interestingly, I repeatedly drafted sentences that turned out to be compound or complex. (If you no longer plan to discuss these types of sentences in future lessons or if you just don't want to go there yet, sorry for bringing it up—just ignore.) But once I got the hang of it, I banged out a couple pithy (I hope) sentences about writing. I came up with several of exactly 10 words, but only 1 of less than 10:

"A word fitly chosen gladdens a writer’s heart."

Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby glorybee » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:56 pm

swfdoc1 wrote:Jan,

You've discussed 2 concepts—simple sentences and short sentences. So, when I tried to write a pithy sentence, I tried to make my sentence simple, in addition to keeping it less than 10 words. Interestingly, I repeatedly drafted sentences that turned out to be compound or complex. (If you no longer plan to discuss these types of sentences in future lessons or if you just don't want to go there yet, sorry for bringing it up—just ignore.) But once I got the hang of it, I banged out a couple pithy (I hope) sentences about writing. I came up with several of exactly 10 words, but only 1 of less than 10:

"A word fitly chosen gladdens a writer’s heart."

Steve


Yeah, I'm still going to try the additional lessons about longer, more complex sentences--with much fear and trembling. I'm hanging around in territory where I've really got no right to be.

Love your sentence--I know that feeling very well, of finding just the right word. Sometimes I've been known to just leave a [put a verb here] in my rough draft, and I stew on the verb for hours. When it finally hits me--hallelujah!
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby lish1936 » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:26 pm

Jan,
Here are my two simple sentences - one from a Challenge submission.

The sun beams down on his thin, pale face.

A bull jumped past the moon.

I think past the moon modifies the verb jumped.

Also, I know indirect objects are not the topic right now, but I was wondering if one test to determine if a word is an indirect object is the "to" test. For example, in your example,

I gave my calico cats three balls of red yarn, the "to" test would be I gave to my calico cats three balls of red yarn.

Thanks,

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby glorybee » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:26 pm

lish1936 wrote:Also, I know indirect objects are not the topic right now, but I was wondering if one test to determine if a word is an indirect object is the "to" test. For example, in your example,

I gave my calico cats three balls of red yarn, the "to" test would be I gave to my calico cats three balls of red yarn.


Lillian, I honestly don't know. I'm already way over my head here, and wishing that I hadn't given the option of "grammar terms or no grammar terms" before I posted this lesson. Truth be told, grammar terms are something I know very little about, and I had far more help than I like to admit on this lesson.

All of the things I know about writing are either instinctual or self-taught, and I'd rather concentrate on the art of writing than the science of it. So I think next week's lesson on more complicated sentences will be more art, less grammar.

If Ann Grover was still doing her forum on grammar, I'd recommend that you post your question to her. But I don't think she's done anything there in months and months, so I'll have to recommend that you research direct and indirect objects online. Or perhaps my helper, Steve Fitschen, will see this and respond.

So sorry to fall short!
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby Mike Newman » Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:00 am

Evening Jan,

I chose Outside Looking In to review my use of short sentences. It is a past challenge entry of mine. Both your lesson and this review really highlighted for me my love of the long and winding sentence. There were only eleven or twelve short sentences in the entire thing, and at least half were in dialogue. That's pretty awful.

I really enjoyed the article you linked to. The Thomas French and George Orwell examples of how to powerfully employ the short sentence were really helpful to me. I loved how it altered the rhythm and beat of their writing.

The two lines from my story are (not that I had much in the way of options):

The gun? That was a gift.

Thanks Jan, this was very helpful for me.

Mike
Last edited by Mike Newman on Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby swfdoc1 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:57 am

lish1936 wrote:
Also, I know indirect objects are not the topic right now, but I was wondering if one test to determine if a word is an indirect object is the "to" test. For example, in your example,

I gave my calico cats three balls of red yarn, the "to" test would be I gave to my calico cats three balls of red yarn.


That approach generally works, although sometimes you have to use the word “for.” For example, “Jan baked her cat a birthday cake.” => “Jan baked a birthday cake for [not “to”] her cat.” Also, notice how I put the sentence in a more natural order when using this “test.” There is no reason to say “Jan baked for her cat a birthday cake.”

Of course, the best approach is just to understand the concepts of direct and indirect objects. Generally, the direct object DIRECTLY receives the action of the verb. Even though I’m a dog person, I know Jan is going to bake the cake, not the cat; the cake receives the action of baking. Indirect objects generally tell things like for whom the action was done.

A third way to know which is which is to remember that the indirect object (when there is one) comes between the subject and the direct object. Maybe you can remember the name Sid (Subject, indirect object, direct object).

The only reason Jan introduced this concept was to note that the inclusion of objects does not move sentences out of the "simple sentence" category and into one of the other categories (compound, complex, or compound-complex). So--even though it sounds like you have a handle on objects--don't worry if there is any confusion.

Steve
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby lish1936 » Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:49 am

Jan wrote:So sorry to fall short!


Jan, there's no need for an apology. I appreciate you sharing what you know or have learned, either by instinct or through self-teaching. That's more than I know!

Steve wrote:So--even though it sounds like you have a handle on objects--don't worry if there is any confusion.


Thanks, Steve. The SID acrostic really plants it firmly in my mind.

Blessings,

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby choosingjoy » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:27 pm

Hi Jan, Hope you have a great weekend with the granddaughter's birthday celebration.

:book2
I picked out a challenge entry that I liked, and it was a recent EC one. My word counter says it contains 728 words (includes 2-word title). In it, I counted 63 sentences in all. I think I am right that there are 26 simple sentences. I do look forward, however to learning more about compound and complex sentences, as I got a bit confused in telling the differences in the longer sentences. I did discover my weakness in repeating the pattern of one independent clause and one dependent clause .

This was an interesting and informative thing to do. I think it will be very helpful. :thumbs
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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby GranR » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:07 pm

I chose a challenge entry entitled, " Have I Worn Out My Welcome. I often use short sentences in my writing. I will count the sentences in the piece and get back to you. This is my first interactive class with you. I have read many, many of the lessons.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby GranR » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:09 pm

Two sentences from my article: She fiddled with her thumbs. I grew more anxious. I think they are effective because the "She" is about to tell something surprising. The "I" is about to hear something surprising.

I may have over used short sentences in this article. Out of 79 sentences, 55 are short.


Long Sentence from same article: My birth family abandoned me when I was three months old due to financial problems, as explained by my foster mother.

Shorter version: Financial problems cause my abandonment, as an infant.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby glorybee » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:23 pm

Gran R, I think you may be right about overusing short sentences. Stay tuned to next week's lesson, when I'll show some ways of combining short sentences into compound sentences.

Thanks for stopping by and contributing!
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby GranR » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:08 am

Thank you, Jan.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby rjc33020 » Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:15 pm

I enjoyed just reading this and the different comments. I mainly right poetry but currently am looking to learn what writing has to offer. Hear is a line from a poem I am writing called REDEEM US FOR HOLINESS

Lord, we have a purpose in your kingdom.
But we cannot fulfill it without your wisdom.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--SIMPLE SENTENCES

Postby glorybee » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:15 am

rjc33020 wrote:I enjoyed just reading this and the different comments. I mainly right poetry but currently am looking to learn what writing has to offer. Hear is a line from a poem I am writing called REDEEM US FOR HOLINESS

Lord, we have a purpose in your kingdom.
But we cannot fulfill it without your wisdom.


rjc, I'm responding here in case you don't see my response over in the poetry thread. I've written a long critique of your poem there, but I don't want to post it without your permission. Some people would rather be critiqued privately. If you want me to post the critique, let me know--if you want it emailed to you, send me a PM with your email address and I'll be glad to send it to you.
Jan Ackerson

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