Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Writing Tip Wednesday--Varying Sentence Structure

I'm probably dating myself, but do you remember the Dick and Jane adventures of early elementary school reading? They bring back fond memories of learning to read. However, they're not a good example of how to write most fiction. A preschool or early-reader picture book maybe. Definitely not a middle-grade, YA, new-adult, sci-fi, romance, etc. novel.

In order to keep a reader's interest, the story needs more than... "Oh no!" Jack shouted. He jumped off the bridge. He landed in the cold river. He swam after Spot.

Change up the sentence structure for better flow. Short sentences can be effective in high-tension scenes, but avoid using them too often or you'll end up with choppy writing--especially when they all begin the same way.

A possible revision--"Oh no!" Jack shouted. He jumped off the bridge, landing in the cold river. Every stroke of his arms took him closer to Spot.

Begin sentences with modifiers (as long as they're not misplaced!), prepositional phrases, dialogue, etc. to keep the story from becoming monotonous, but avoid using "but" and "and" since most times they're unnecessary. You risk a rejection or lots of edits with the unrevised version.

Another suggestion--Take a look at the first word in each paragraph on the page. Does every one start with "He" or "She"? That can be a sign of repetitive sentence structure as well. Hopefully, you're not finding this pattern in the books you're currently reading. Good writing flows and draws the reader into the story.

I hope you're enjoying the writing tips and finding them useful in improving your craft. As I continue to learn, I'll continue to pass along the information to help other writers. Please feel free to share the link with others!

Next week--Opening Hooks

Thanks for stopping by!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. I always enjoy these posts. Very helpful tips. :)

  2. Another great blog post, I look forward to these every week! Thanks, Mellanie. :)