Tag Archives: Sentence (linguistics)

Rule #1 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

One of the on-line writing groups I belong to has devoted several chat sessions to the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie. Unfortunately, my schedule has not allowed me to participate in any of the discussion thus far, but I did take the opportunity to read the article—and I’m so glad I did.

For the next several weeks, I’m going to dissect this article/essay and really think over each section.  Since I remember things better when I write them down, I figured I might as well post them up here as a series and discussion topic.  This way we can all chat, and maybe learn from each other as well.

I can’t stress strongly enough that writing is subjective. We all strive for different goals. Consequently, we all need our own set of rules—and some of us don’t need rules at all! Personally, I like rules. If nothing else, it’s fun breaking them.  [Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie]

So let’s chat about number one, which defines that wacky word I’ve never heard of before…

1: Avoid pleonasms. A pleonasm is a word or phrase that can be removed from a sentence without changing its meaning. For example, in “Hunting Down The Pleonasm”, ‘down’ is pleonastic. Cut it and the meaning of the sentence does not alter. Many words are used pleonastically: ‘just’, ‘that’ and ‘actually’ are three frequently-seen culprits (I actually just know that he’s the killer can be trimmed to I know he’s the killer), and phrases like ‘more or less’ and ‘in any shape or form’ are redundant [Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie]

Now, I KNOW I don’t use “more or less” or “in any shape or form” because they would both set off my cliché alarm.  I have caught myself using “just” once in a while… but I’m not sure about the other two.  I’m going to go run a search on my nearly completed manuscript FIRE IN THE WOODS for these words.  You go take a look at yours, and let’s meet back here.

swish skid mark

Okay… Here’s the scoop.

There are 203 cases of “just” in my novel.  Probably too many for 270 pages, don’t you think?  It seems that most of them are in dialog, but let’s take a look at a few that aren’t:

Staying in the house was just too much to ask. This was the story of a lifetime. I just couldn’t let it slip by without getting something on film.

Okay, taken out of context the two “justs” next to each other scream at me. The second one will definitely go.  Now the first one… does the sentence sound fine without it?  Yes, of course it does, but I think the “just” in this case, is part of the teenage voice in the novel.  For now, I think the first one will stay—but knowing me it will start annoying me now, and get deleted eventually.

Here’s a “that” instance…

You promised that you wouldn’t let anything happen to me

Each switch up to “You promised you wouldn’t let anything happen to me”

swish skid mark

Here are my total counts:

Original appearances of “Just” = 203 (85% in dialog)

# After search/edit = 114 (mostly dialog)

swish skid mark

Original appearances of “Actually” = 22 (only 5 outside dialog)

# After search/edit = 21 (only 4 outside dialog)

swish skid mark

Original appearances of “That” = 448 (Yikes!)

# after search/edit = 395 – most in dialog, but only 63 could be removed without messing up the sentence. I will look at this again in the final read-through.

How’d you do?  What other words have you come across that can be deleted without changing the meaning of your sentence?

JenniFer_EatonF

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Road to Publication #19: Completing the ARCs

Whew!  Anyone want to take a breath with me?  Breathe in, Breathe out.  Breathe in, Breathe out.  Ahhhh feels good, doesn’t it?

So, yes, the arcs are done.  What did I find?

There were a few odd editing errors.  I mean… really odd editing errors.  For instance, a sentence ended a paragraph in the original version.  All of the rest of that paragraph was deleted, but that particular sentence remained, but was added to a different paragraph where it made no sense.  Yeah, weird… I know.

What I also came across were places where a string of speech was removed for one reason or another, leaving what was left behind “hollow”…  meaning someone answered a question that was never asked, or things like that.  Yes, weird again.

I also found a sentence where a word was missing, but it was in the original text.  Isn’t that odd?  I guess I took for granted that the file would be cut and pasted.  Apparently not.

What I marked mostly was something that I DON’T think they will fix, even though I asked for it.  The reason is that I just saw the same thing in a published novel from this publisher.

It’s silly, and very anal I will admit… but on my Kindle, if a sentence falls off with a “…” at the end… if placed correctly, the “…” will be treated as its own word and end up all by itself on a line.  I asked that ending “…” ellipses be attached to the final word in each case where they appear.

Like I said… I can ask, right?  I hope they do it, because I think it will look better.

The hard part of this whole project was transferring all my notes from my Kindle onto an Excel spreadsheet so they could review it in the format that they requested.  I suppose it would have been easier if I edited on my computer in PDF format, then I could have just created the spreadsheet at the same time.

Yes, in retrospect it would have been easier, but if I come across this again, I will probably do it the same way.  The reason is that I enjoyed the experience of reading it on the Kindle, as my readers will see it.  It just looked “different.”

(And it’s cool having the cover with my name on it appearing in my Kindle Carousel 🙂 )

Ah… vanity… definitely my favorite sin.

Oh!  Impromptu movie game!  Anyone know who said that line, and what movie it came from?

Six Sentence Sunday – A blast from the past. This is funny.

It’s Six Sentence Sunday again.  Today’s is gonna give you a giggle. I’m going to allow you to wallow in my ineptness.

If you haven’t heard, Six Sentence Sunday is a group of people who mostly post their own work, but I just shoot out six sentences of whatever takes my fancy.  Sometimes what I’m writing, or sometimes what I’m reading.  If you want to find out more, click here.  Visit Six Sentence Sunday Site.

I’m still reading Oracle by JC Martin.  I didn’t want to post another 6 sentences from the same work, so I was sitting here at my desk, and I saw a printed copy of my early novel HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT hanging out, feeling abandoned.

I thought it would be fun to open it up to a random page, and just pick six sentences.

Now… I wrote this well over a year ago, maybe even two years, as last year at this time I was editing it.  I laughed when I read this passage.  I am going to curtail my inner-editor and post it exactly as it is printed.  Mistakes and all.

Yes, thank goodness, I have come incredibly far in a little over a year.

At his feet, an arbor bug struggled to scale a small mound of dirt.

Harris sighed as he watched it.  Why doesn’t it just walk around it?  After it fell back for the third time, Harris flattened the mound with his foot, and the small creature continued on its way.  He closed his eyes and smiled, actually finding gratification in helping something so small.  Would Daniel Hyelven have done that?

OMIGOSH!  Can you stand how much tell is in those six sentences?

Did I really use the word “it” four times in the same line?

This is really embarrassing.   I just couldn’t believe it, but I thought it would be worth a laugh.

I just love this story, and someday I will go back and fix it.  After looking at this paragraph, I know it will be a huge undertaking. 🙂

Hope you got a good giggle!