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Old 07-12-2009, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,543 posts, read 28,173,795 times
Reputation: 6373

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I was taught an opening sentence should not exceed 20 words.

The best example of a run-on sentence I ever read came from a school librarian in a letter to parents. The purpose was to explain the school policy regarding borrowing books from the school library. My neighbor, who has a 4th grade education asked me to explain it. She was in tears.

The opening sentence was 53 words. I read it three times before I realized nothing changed. The school library policy was the same.

The moral is this. Writers who find themselves trying to explain their way out of a circle should delete the sentence and start over. What I call a circle sentence is one that is complex. It is not improved by adding or removing words, or switching words around to make it read better. It is a mess that only drastic surgery can fix. In my case, it is usually a running sentence in which the subject/topic is better explained in more than one sentence.
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati
69 posts, read 124,735 times
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An opening sentence should be a hook, however long it is.
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:29 PM
 
1,619 posts, read 2,634,931 times
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I was fortunate (at least now I clearly recognize how fortunate, not necessarily when I was in school, cazillion years ago) to have a mom who was an English teacher. I learned how to write; what to write of course was different.

My mom taught me a few things and to this day, I remember them well and use them:
a. She taught me not to worry, initially, about the spelling or the grammar but rather "write" as if I was telling her/someone a story...just write it...once I was finished 'telling my story", did I begin to edit, etc. One of the mechanisms I now use when typing on the computer, I have given my computer a name....and pretend that Abigail, or Betty or Ken (whatever name seems to fit the moment) is listening to my story...keeps the creative flow going.

b. Never finish a sentence with a preposition;

c. And, when "telling the story", not to be concerned with the run-on sentences; however, when the story is done...

My mom taught me a new word a day; I followed the same practice with my kids. And I have restarted that habit by signing up with dictionary.com and have a new word waiting for me in my email every day. Some of the words I know I will never use, some I still cannot pronounce (smile) however, if it is an interesting word I will make sure I will remember it because I can always use it when editing something I have written.
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:31 PM
 
1,619 posts, read 2,634,931 times
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An opening sentence should be a hook, however long it is.

Depending upon what you are writing, that opening hook can be used again, in some manner, at the very end...so you have the hook that entices them in and the scoop that keeps them in.
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Maine
20,350 posts, read 24,084,408 times
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"If your writing sounds like writing, rewrite it." -- Elmore Leonard

Good advice.
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:10 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati
69 posts, read 124,735 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarmaple View Post
b. Never finish a sentence with a preposition;
That may hold true for English class but not when writing fiction.

Open a novel and take a look. You will also find fragments....but not in English class.

Also, you don't want to tell a story. You want to show a story.
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:20 PM
 
1,619 posts, read 2,634,931 times
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Hi and thanks for that delineation. I do realize that difference

For me, what pops into my head is the story..I clearly picture the story and I have to write the story to get the words out, sometimes I will write paragraphs/chapters close to the end and then back to the beginning...etc. (good thing we have computers for sure) and then I end up crafting and illustrating the story with the words that I know will picture it....as well, for me, writing kinda flows and I just find it helpful, to me, to keep at least in the back of my head some English tips..

One of the koolest compliments I recently received from a close friend (who I also trust enough to constructively criticize), said that whenever I say and/of write something she can always 'see it'...I appreciated it, alot. Now, let's see if I can get published!
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