List of writing lessons

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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oursilverstrands
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List of writing lessons

Post by oursilverstrands » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:09 pm

Jan, I searched the list before posting this to see if I could find an answer. It may be there, but it's eluding me.

In this sentence: "There appears to be no other family members..." Is "There" the subject with the "s" in appears. Or what is the subject? As I see it "no other family members" comes after the verb, so it couldn't be the subject.

Thanks

Lillian
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Re: List of writing lessons

Post by glorybee » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:27 pm

lish1936 wrote:Jan, I searched the list before posting this to see if I could find an answer. It may be there, but it's eluding me.

In this sentence: "There appears to be no other family members..." Is "There" the subject with the "s" in appears. Or what is the subject? As I see it "no other family members" comes after the verb, so it couldn't be the subject.

Thanks

Lillian
Subjects can come after verbs--take a look at this example:

On the pirate's shoulder sat a vivid green parrot.

In that sentence, parrot is the subject and sat is the verb.

Subjects can also follow verbs in questions:

Is lemon meringue pie good?

Subject: pie
Verb: is

Finally, in sentences like yours that begin with there (or here), the subject may follow the verb:

There are many great writers on this site.

Subject: writers
Verb: are

In your sentence, the subject is family members (which is plural), so the verb has to be appear in order to agree with that subject.

There appear to be no other family members.
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Re: List of writing lessons

Post by oursilverstrands » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:36 pm

Thanks, Jan. I had an inkling that I might need to check this one. Glad I did. YOU are the gem. :D

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: List of writing lessons

Post by CatLin » Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:35 pm

A question about Lillian's question?

I seem to remember reading somewhere that starting a sentence with there is considered weak. Is that true, or is that a Cat-ism--something I decided?

For example, I would write the sentence this way, to avoid starting with there:
No other family members appear to be...
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Re: List of writing lessons

Post by glorybee » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:24 pm

CatLin wrote:A question about Lillian's question?

I seem to remember reading somewhere that starting a sentence with there is considered weak. Is that true, or is that a Cat-ism--something I decided?

For example, I would write the sentence this way, to avoid starting with there:
No other family members appear to be...
There is nothing ungrammatical about starting a sentence with 'There is...' (see what I did there?), and at times, it's even the best way. For example, I can't think of a rearrangement of the previous sentence that would work any better.

But sometimes, the words "There is" or "There are" at the beginning of a sentence are unnecessary. For example,

There is a lady in my Bible study with purple hair...

...could be better written like this:

A lady in my Bible study has purple hair.

So if you find you have lots of "There..." sentences, you might want to see if they can be rewritten a bit tighter...but don't feel as if every 'There...' sentence is somehow wrong.

It's unclear whether Lillian's sentence was complete as is, or whether it was the beginning of a longer sentence. If

There appear to be no other family members

...is the complete sentence, then it's probably fine as is. But if the intent was to say something like

There appear to be no other family members who remember the Great Depression

...then a possible rewrite might be

No other family members appear to remember the Great Depression.
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Re: List of writing lessons

Post by CatLin » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:14 pm

Thanks, Jan. That makes my editing a little easier. I wonder where I came up with that not-a-rule? (Rhetorical question - I'm certainly not asking you. Unless you know. ;) )
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Re: List of writing lessons

Post by glorybee » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:05 pm

CatLin wrote:Thanks, Jan. That makes my editing a little easier. I wonder where I came up with that not-a-rule? (Rhetorical question - I'm certainly not asking you. Unless you know. ;) )
English teachers teach a lot of rules; you may have learned it in high school. I can't blame them, really--it's important to know the rules, so that you learn how to write 'properly.' But it's just as important, if you're going to be doing much writing, to know that the rules--for the most part--are only suggestions. My entry in the "procrastination" challenge breaks one very important rule, and I did it for mood and atmosphere. Writers need to know when and how to do that.
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