Friday, June 23, 2017
PROSE THAT FLOWS: Straighten Out Your Sentences
This is writing advice, real nitpicky writing advice, but the kind you don't see enough. Obviously. People still do this. They don't even know what's wrong. Maybe you're doing it. Tell me which which sentence scans faster:
I ducked into the alleyway, squeezed off a few shots, and vaulted over a fence.
I ducked into the alleyway and, squeezing off a few shots, vaulted over a fence.
The first sentence is the correct answer. Action is presented as it happens, and the reader follows the chain of events smoothly through time. The second sentence isn't the same. The commas are corrupted, no longer gentle angels of mercy separating units of thought but wicked devils that stutter the action until the sentence is about fence-vaulting with an aside, if you'll take the time to read it, about firing a gun. The flow is broken.
This is huge with inexperienced authors. They cling to their tone-deaf subordinate clauses. I don't know why. Maybe I used to. Sure, you can make up for it in other areas. You don't have to. You can write sentences where things happen in sequence and action is not caged in corrupted commas of filth. The human brain processes prose just like it processes speech, almost exactly, and if it don't flow out loud it won't be prose that flows.
If you cripple your sentences with awkward flow it's your fault if your story can't fly. Don't be cruel to your dreams. Take off the hobbles and write the prose that flows.