Copyright C.J. Lindsay 2020
The basics of all writing is of course vocabulary choices combined with sentence structure. Below I'll explore all the elements and look at how they can be used in creating pieces that are engaging to audiences and
Romance or horror, you decide
If you read through this paying attention to the red words you'll be reading a romance story.
If you read through this paying attention to the red words you'll be reading a horror story.
The knock on the door made her happy / afraid. She giggled / screamed when she opened the door and she saw the flowers / knife in his hand. “I just need my bag”/ “Oh my God, NO!” she said / screamed. She walked / ran up the stairs and into the bathroom, giggling to herself / screaming for help while he followed / chased her, but she closed / slammed the door. ‘I’m not ready yet!” / “NO!” she said / yelled. He knocked / tapped on the door and said / whispered, “Come on, we’re going to be late” / “I know you’re in there”. He pushed / kicked open the door. She picked up/grabbed her perfume and sprayed it on her neck / in his eye. “Ok, ready, let’s go” / “Get out!” she said / screamed. She walked / rushed through the doorway taking his hand / pushing him away. He put his arm around her waist / grabbed her around the waist. They walked / tumbled down the stairs together…
Note that it is exactly the same basic situation, a girl opening the door to a boy.
I’m going to use the horror part of the story above to break it down into the various sentence types.
1. Simple sentences:
The first sentence in the paragraph is a simple sentence. It has one action (verb)
“The knock on the door made her afraid.”
Simple sentences are like fast cuts in an action movie. Using simple sentences one after another can increase the pace and tension in your story.
2. The second sentence in the paragraph is a compound sentence.
This is two sentences (A and B) joined together by a conjunction (and).
She screamed when she opened the door and she saw the knife in his hand.
Compound sentences are good for getting details across to the reader quickly because you’re basically getting two sentences in as quickly as one. This can help your writing flow a lot easier.
3. The third sentence in the paragraphs is a complex compound sentence.
The simplest way to think about this is that there are two sentences (A and B) and an extra bit of information (C).
She ran up the stairs and into the bathroom, screaming for help while he chased her,
but she slammed the door.
Notice that ‘C’ is not a whole sentence by itself it just adds information to the sentence. This is called a clause. Complex compound sentences can be used for action but they are best used for detailed descriptions of people and places.
Notice that the sentences in the 'Romance or Horror' paragraph tend to start with a pronoun, He or She.
This can be boring and repetitive. Here are some alternative ways of starting the sentences. This sentence from the paragraph is a good example. Below it I have provided some examples of how it could be written in a different and more engaging way.
“She grabbed her perfume and sprayed it in his eye. “Get out!” she screamed. She rushed through the doorway pushing him away. He grabbed her around the waist. They tumbled down the stairs together…’
'She grabbed her perfume and sprayed it in his eye.'
'Grabbing her perfume she sprayed it in his eye and screamed ‘get out’.'
'Screaming, ‘get out!’ she sprayed her perfume in his eye.'
'While screaming, ‘get out!’ she sprayed her perfume in his eye.'
'Perfume boiled his eyeball as she poured it down his face.'
'Horrible screams echoed around the bathroom as the perfume boiled his eyeball.'
The fundamental lesson from all this is that using a variety of sentence beginnings and lengths will demonstrate your CONTROL of the English language. If your writing is going to have an impact on the reader you want it to happen, not by accident, but because of your deliberate choices.