(Beth Turnage) I’ve written a number of posts on Quora on writing and thought I’d curate some here. You can call it laziness, but really it’s a lack of time, since ghostwriting is keeping me very busy. Really. 😉
When writing, how do you grab your reader’s attention as quickly as possible?
How do I do it?
I bring the reader into the story as quickly as possible. I answer the questions who, what, when, where, why in the first paragraph. This means no long moody passages about the weather or vague impressions about feelings, or any of the awful beginnings that beginning writers are prone to pen.
But I’m not the only one. Plenty of first-rate writers do the same thing and here is an excellent page to see the first sentence of their books:
Writing is hard. Difficult. Okay, it’s the kick in your stomach when you are working like a demon to scrape the words out of your dissolute soul.The words refuse to arrive like the A-list celebrities you invited to your party. Your characters snottily refuse to talk to you, your descriptions fall flatter than gluten-free pancakes, and your inner world sucks.
W. Somerset Maugham said:
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Pro-Writing Aid, an online program that analyzes your writing and gives you recommendations to improve it. As I was looking at a report on a piece it gave the number of adverbs and recommended that I remove three.
I must have missed this before but I do tend to use the old editor, instead of the report on the new editor.
With a word count and a number of allowed adverbs in hand, I calculated the percentage of adverbs that Pro-Writing Aid said I could use.
And I was shocked.
Those of us that ply the writer’s craft are aware of all the different pieces of advice from different writers, editors, and pundits that basically boil down to “use fewer words to express your thoughts.”
Two hundred words are said to comprise eighty percent of all English sentences. Here is the list broken down into parts of speech. Why? Because you should know what weapons you are hurling at an unsuspecting public.
It’s been nigh many years when the nuns at my Catholic grammar school made me memorize parts of speech at the age of seven and had me parse sentences at the tender age of ten. Funny thing is that my children never had to struggle with such exercises. Instead they were immersed in “whole language” where they were encouraged to write and express themselves whether or not they knew how to wield words. This is such a stark contrast to me and my classmates having to copy compositions and types of letters out of books to learn how to write such things that it is no wonder that writers today use sentence fragments and feel perfectly comfortable using them. Continue reading The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech