Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Post Your Snippets For Craft Help Here (2 Viewers)

Matchu

Senior Member
I only saw the three or four posts where @Taylor says ‘you might insert a than?’ and you said it was okay because the reader will be reading so fast they don’t need a than.

And then I read about a smile getting wider and wider each time and I tried to do it myself and I can manage maybe two or three stretches but that’s all.

I’m sorry I said the wrong thing on the thread.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
He's going through her memories in his own head. They exist within him. Her smile isn't just a smile, it's his experience too now. It's beyond empathy.
First, any time an author has to explain what they wrote, they've already blown it. That's what the original text is for. However, what we're missing here is context, since it's a single sentence. Is it bringing him closer to HER THAN everyone else, or is it bringing him closer TO EVERYONE? "Than" versus "to" gives the sentence a widely different meaning. I think, like Taylor, most people are going to assume the first, and think the "to" is out of place, unless the surrounding context clears it up.

However, get over any notion that "the reader is reading too fast to notice". How do you know? The answer is, you don't. Added to that, you're setting yourself these exercises with your word poem goal. It's like reading molasses. The verbiage is sometimes so thick I don't think anyone is reading it all that fast. LOL (At least I'm not, and I'm a fast reader).

Next on a different subject, when I proof myself, why do I often leave "ing" off the end of "bringing" just because one "ing" was already there? I don't do it with "singing" or "clinging" or "wringing" ... just bringing. ;-/
 
Last edited:

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
First, any time an author has to explain what they wrote, they've already blown it. That's what the original text is for. However, what we're missing here is context, since it's a single sentence. Is it bringing him closer to HER THAN everyone else, or is it bringing him closer TO EVERYONE? "Than" versus "to" gives the sentence a widely different meaning. I think, like Taylor, most people are going to assume the first, and think the "to" is out of place, unless the surrounding context clears it up.

Next on a different subject, when I proof myself, why do I often leave "ing" off the end of "bringing" just because one "ing" was already there? I don't do it with "singing" or "clinging" or "wringing" ... just bringing. ;-/
Maybe you can actually answer the question I asked:

I know that 'Anaphora' is repeating a word or phrase for emphasis but is there a specific name for repeating every other word, as in this example from Apparition:

Each memory brightened his eyes and broadened his smile, and each smile brought him closer to Heather, closer to any person he’d ever met … even perhaps his father.

I do actually take the point. And I'm not going to completely ignore it in future rewrites. I was only explaining my intentions with the sentence. But that was beside the point and not the reason for posting.

edit: In fact, I keep reading it and think I will actually add in a 'than'. I'll just have to accept it spoils the punch slightly but there is some confusion there. Seeing as it's been pulled up, I might as well go over it more thoroughly:

Each memory brightened his eyes and broadened his smile, and each smile brought him closer to Heather, closer to her than any person he’d ever met … even perhaps his father.

Better?
 
Last edited:

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
edit: In fact, I keep reading it and think I will actually add in a 'than'. I'll just have to accept it spoils the punch slightly but there is some confusion there.
I don't know the answer to your original question, which is why I didn't reply to that, but I do know about this sentence. This notion of the "punch" of that sentence is entirely in your headspace, not your reader's. Individually, they're not hearing your inner voice--they're reading with their own. So, the priority is clarity. Whatever else you do is OK as long as the reader accurately understands your thought.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
I don't know the answer to your original question, which is why I didn't reply to that, but I do know about this sentence. This notion of the "punch" of that sentence is entirely in your headspace, not your reader's. Individually, they're not hearing your inner voice--they're reading with their own. So, the priority is clarity. Whatever else you do is OK as long as the reader accurately understands your thought.
I was discussing on the premise it sounded awkward, not that it was grammatically incorrect. I know you know a hell of a lot about grammar and Taylor does too, so explain to me in as simple terms as you can, why it's grammatically incorrect to not add the 'than'.

I can actually 'feel' it's wrong now I've read it a dozen times but can't put my finger on why.

edit: OK, so what you're saying is it's the difference between the protag feeling closer to her V everyone else feeling closer to her. Is that right? The inclusion of 'than' makes it clearer I'm referring to the protag ... right? Give me some grammar tips, damn it!

edit 2: The only problem is, not a single grammar checker I put it through flags it as wrong.

edit 3: LOL. Or is it just simply 'closer to any person he'd ever met' could be seen as it brought him closer, not only to Heather, but everyone else too? I'm closer ... right? The grammar checker wouldn't flag that as wrong so I'm guessing that's the problem.
 
Last edited:

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
I was discussing on the premise it sounded awkward, not that it was grammatically incorrect. I know you know a hell of a lot about grammar and Taylor does too, so explain to me in as simple terms as you can, why it's grammatically incorrect to not add the 'than'.
It's not a matter of grammar, it's a matter of meaning. "Than" means he's closer to her THAN anyone else, so just her. "To" means he's closer to everyone he knows, not only her. So I'm not saying "to" is wrong, just that it makes a difference in the scope of your thought, and you pick one or the other depending on that scope. (And in the case you use "to", you may need additional context to insure it's clear).
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
It's not a matter of grammar, it's a matter of meaning. "Than" means he's closer to her THAN anyone else, so just her. "To" means he's closer to everyone he knows, not only her. So I'm not saying "to" is wrong, just that it makes a difference in the scope of your thought, and you pick one or the other depending on that scope. (And in the case you use "to", you may need additional context to insure it's clear).
OK, so edit 3 was right then. Got it. :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
OK, so edit 3 was right then. Got it. :)
Sorry AZ, I fell asleep last night and missed the end of this discussion, but a worthy one I think for the subject of ‘craft’. Glad that vranger was able to step in and bring some validity to the topic of “meaning”. What we mean to say is a big part of our craft. One that editors cannot decide for us.

I was reminded of the days I was involved with public policy or writing laws. It’s all about intent. What did the policy-makers intend and will it stand up in a court of law?

The first draft is typically sent to 10-20 reviewers for comment. And even though grammatically perfect at this point, when the document comes back it is so marked up with comments and suggested wording, you can’t even recognize it. Next, it goes out for public comment as a bill. There it gets tested again, and then back to the drafter for revision.

And finally, once it passes through the house and receives royal assent it becomes a law. And guess what? There are still mistakes with respect to intent or meaning. Crafty lawyers and accountants interpret the law to benefit their clients. If they succeed, it can cause the public to lose millions of dollars. We call that a ‘loophole’. While not what the policy-makers intended, it is perfectly legal.

The craft of writing is allusive indeed!
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
So, here's an interesting one. As most people know by now, I like to experiment. One of my approaches when experimenting is to deliberately break rules. In my short story 'The Story' I deliberately set out to break the rule about 'specificity' to see if I could still craft something interesting. In this piece I'm deliberately breaking the rule of not being too 'figurative'. The question I want answering isn't 'don't be figurative, be more specific and concrete', the questions is 'Do you see what I want you to see?' Just like my Coats For Wings, this is an experiment in poetic prose, but turned up a notch or two.

edit: That sounds too specific. Feel free to critique as normal. I just need people to understand the 'figurative' aspects are deliberate.

The street calls. It draws me through shades to shadows, from shadows to darkness, like the mould in the corner of a lilac room, lost to all but the hand that dares a touch. It’s just rot isn’t it? Something that ‘was’, now shrivelled to nothing. Still, it calls.

Narrower as I travel, rot my destination. I think. For all the bleakness and bleed, the something that ‘was’ warms me inside. Not chilling my steps or turning me towards the light.

Windows doze. Hands pass over their light to waking lamps. I am but a suit, stretched, shrunk, and thinned, a clip in the quiet. Glassy eyes mewl from a bin lid, clatter away as I pass. Music hums through bricks, its pulse a dulled throb. Cinema screens crackle with today’s news. Walls lean in to listen, my lips unrewarding.

I pinch the thread of an alley and pull.
 
Last edited:

Anamable

Senior Member
Ok, so I'm trying something. I have been told if this is reasonably successful, a subforum could be made for it. So, please, try to keep it on topic.

The idea is to have a section purely for craft and nothing else. We have a section for grammar and we have the Writing Workshop section, but that section is really for short stories and novels. Yes you get critique there on style and craft but it's not specifically for craft and is such a broad church of critique, it doesn't lend itself well to nailing down craft alone. I hope this thread does just that. Other forums have a section like this so I see no reason we couldn't have one here too. From a quick scout around, they're popular.

So what's it about? Instead of posting whole stories or large sections of stories, you post a sentence or a paragraph (or three). Something you're not happy with and want to know how to improve. You could also ask for help with better word choice, better structuring, any number of craft related things. I've already done this a couple of times with things like my 'is this mournful?' thread but never really felt it fitted here well. I think a focused subforum would be helpful for a lot of people.
I'm new to writing, hence not very skilled but here's a snippet of my most recent story:


Numbness. A feeling of feeling nothing at all. All of us might have felt it at some point of time. But do you know when numbness is at it’s worst?
When you’re suppose to have a raging tornado of emotions swirling inside you, but there’s only a void, a disconnect.
This is how I felt then, sitting in the waiting room of the ‘Wellness Hospital’. Weird, pungent hospital smell assaulted my senses. I’ve not been to many hospitals before, never liked them. I wasn’t sure if there was something ominous about the room I was nestled in or I just felt that way because it was a hospital. Tipping my head backwards, I stared at the hospital ceiling, which was whiter than the snow. The walls too were coated in the same color. The ticking of the wall clock was magnified by silence. As each second passed, my stomach felt heavier. Serena was fighting for her life in another room of the same corridor where I sat.
Fighting for her life.
The thought made the hair on my nape shoot up. Shock of this incident was such that it had sapped me of all emotions. And all that was left was numbness. Spine chilling, terrifying numbness. Feeling restless, I shuffled in my seat. My skin felt cold against the metal chair, rows of them occupied the entire room. My right leg was shaking incessantly, it always did when I felt anxious.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
That’s a nice couple of paragraphs.

If it was my draft I would shift the ‘you’ and ‘us’ toward ‘I’ up at the beginning - and allow the reader to share the sensation that way, let them nod their heads...

Later on, a string of verbs - magnified - being one of them, I’d remove the ‘was’ from all 3.

see you:)
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Matchu made a good point about the linking verbs (copulas): was, were--essentially any form of "to be". Your piece of prose is very effective, but eliminating a few of those will spice it up--plus, some agents will ding you if the prose has too many. I'm going to disagree on Matchu, however, with "was magnified". I thought that sentence was (haha) quite evocative, and I don't see a fix for "was" which gives it the same feeling.

However, "was fighting" can be "fought". "The same color coated the walls". The sentence beginning "I wasn't sure" has four of them ... a bit weighty with the "to be's". So you'll wind up with what's called a "copular spider." See the image below.

Often a copula will be followed by a verb with "ing", as noted above in "was fighting", so you simply eliminate "was" and "ing" and it's fixed.

"was shaking" to "shook" is another example.

Sometimes you can get rid of it completely: Shock of this incident was such that it had sapped me of all emotions.

Sometimes you can simply replace the copula with a better verb. For example with "This is how I felt then", you could have "This illustrates how I felt then". By the way, I'm not saying "illustrate" is the best replacement choice there. That's a situation where I'm likely to fire up thesaurus.com and dig for the word I like best.

You don't have to replace ALL of the copulas, you just don't want to leave something like that diagram down there. :) Some of them will provide the mood you seek better than more active verbs.

However, overall that's a nice piece ... nice sentence structure outside of what I discussed, good flow, and it sets your mood. And frankly, I could live with most of those copulas for a section of prose only that long, but if you don't pay attention, you can wind up doing that for the whole book, and then you'd wind up having to fix hundreds of them in revision. :) I've looked at manuscripts from hopeful writers where the manuscript is filled with them, even in action scenes, and the narration eventually falls flat.

1621782236716.png
 
Last edited:

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
1/ Numbness. A feeling of feeling nothing at all. All of us might have felt it at some point of time. But do you know when numbness is at it’s worst? 2/ When you’re suppose to have a raging tornado of emotions swirling inside you, but there’s only a void, a disconnect.

1/ First of all, 'numbness' isn't what you call a first line grabber, although, it's so short, the second sentence could also be included in that grabber. In this case, even with both it's not what you would call a grabber. Now that's out of the way, the craft: 'A feeling of feeling nothing at all.' Even if it isn't an overly complex sentence, it feels like one simply because of the one word sentence preceding it. I'd write it like this, in keeping with the opening sentence: 'Numbness. Feeling nothing.' Not only does it fit in with the first one word sentence, but it creates a nice 'build' towards the third sentence. Short/Medium/long: Da ... Da Da ... Da Da Da DA! 2/ You've asked a question in the fourth sentence and answered it immediately in the next paragraph. Because it's directly related to the question, I'd include it in the first paragraph.

This is how I felt then, sitting in the waiting room of the ‘Wellness Hospital’. 1/ Weird, pungent hospital smell assaulted my senses. 2/ I’ve not been to many hospitals before, never liked them. 3/ I wasn’t sure if there was something ominous about the room I was nestled in or I just felt that way because it was a hospital. 4/ Tipping my head backwards, I stared at the hospital ceiling, which was whiter than the snow. 5/ The walls too were coated in the same color. 6/ The ticking of the wall clock was magnified by silence. As each second passed, my stomach felt heavier. 7/ Serena was fighting for her life in another room of the same corridor where I sat.
Fighting for her life.

1/ 'Weird' is a weak verb. It tells us nothing about the smell. 'Pungent' is better, so lead with that: 'A pungent hospital smell ...'. You've established we're in a hospital and so 'hospital' can be eliminated from the sentence. 'A pungent smell assaulted my senses.' The problem with that sentence is you've had to use the plural of 'sense'. The problem arose because you'd already used 'smell' and have associated the sense directly to the protag. There's no need for that. When writing in 1st or 3rd person, anything related to sight/sound/smell/touch/taste can simply be described: 'A pungent odour filled the wards' for instance. 2/ 'never liked them' is separate from the first statement and modifying it slightly, so I'd use a semicolon there, not a comma. But, in keeping with the style you used in the opening line, I'd want to write: 'I haven't been to many hospitals before. Never liked them.' I find 'I've not been' a tad awkward sounding. 3/ 'I wasn't sure' It's akin to using words like 'almost', 'nearly', 'as if'. I'm just taking the opportunity to point that out. In this case it's OK. As others have already pointed out, you use a hell of a lot of 'was' here and elsewhere. Those loosen the prose and make it feel flimsy, as well as including unnecessary repetition. I'm not certain about the word 'nestled' there. I'm going to guess you've actually chosen that word carefully to give the impression of timorousness. It's a word you can build around for this sentence and feeling, while also getting rid of those 'was's. Because I don't think it's necessary to use 'I wasn't sure', I'd go with something like 'It felt ominous, nestled in the corridor.' You don't need to keep reminding the reader you're in a hospital. 4/ 'Tipping my head backwards, I stared at the hospital ceiling' If you looked at the ceiling, you tipped your head back so that's self evident. We know we're in a hospital: 'I stared at the ceiling.' I'd move the description of colour into one sentence and remove that cliche 'white as snow'. KILL IT DEAD! 5/ 'coated with' is over the top there. 'painted' is a perfectly good word. You're in a hospital and you're feeling an ominousness. Instead of simply thinking of the white as a colour, think of it in relation to that feeling. This is where I may use a little symbolism. If you use 'glossy white' but note a patch of mould in one corner, you could suggest hospitals conceal the truth with their pristine look and antiseptic smell, while at the heart of it (the mould = YOU) knows it's not the case. It's up to you how you express that though. 6/ 'magnified' is usually associated with scale, although time as a concept could possibly be described in terms of scale. Here though, you've focused in on the ticks. We can also get rid of that 'was'. We haven't been introduced to the clock before and it isn't something we assume is in a hospital corridor, so it should be 'a clock'. If you refer back to it at some point, THEN you can use 'the': 'A wall clock intensified the silence.' 7/ What sort of a ward was she in? Of course you're going to be in the corridor where her ward would be, and you don't have to repeat she's fighting for her life. We can also get rid of that 'was' again: 'Serena fought for her life in intensive care.'

1/ The thought made the hair on my nape shoot up. 2/ Shock of this incident was such that it had sapped me of all emotions. And all 3/ that was left was numbness. Spine chilling, terrifying numbness. 4/ Feeling restless, I shuffled in my seat. 5/ My skin felt cold against the metal chair, rows of them occupied the entire room. 6/ My right leg was shaking incessantly, it always did when I felt anxious.

1/ 'shoot up'. It's a bit colloquial for your needs and doesn't necessarily create the right image. Use a simpler, more relevant way of describing it: 'The thought made the hair on my neck bristle.' 2/ I know exactly what you're doing when you write sentences like this because I used to do it too. You've got nothing in your head but the idea you want to convey, and so you begin the sentence and guide yourself through the maze of thinking until you arrive at the end. Trial the sentence in your head a few times before you place it down. Eventually, you'll do it without thought. This is a perfect example of it. 'of this incident', 'was such', 'that it has sapped'. All of that happened because you didn't have a structure already in mind. It's awkward. I'm having to look at this and think carefully about how I want to restructure it. I'm not just doing this easily. :) It takes a little more thought, that's all. I'm not a lover of 'emotions' there but because you've used the plural, the reader is going to try and think of what 'emotions' you mean. If you simply say 'emotion', then we immediately get the idea of 'no outward expression of concern', 'NUMB'. So, with all that taken into consideration: 'Shock sapped me of emotion.' It's up to you to square this with your early claim of it feeling 'ominous'. Personally, I'd reconsider the early descriptions of his emotions, and run with this numbness. 3/ I'd bring this into the previous sentence and simplify: 'Shock sapped me of emotion, leaving me numb and terrified.' Although, once again, consider 'terrified'. That's an emotion ... right? If he's numb with no emotion, he can't feel terrified: 'Shock sapped me of emotion, leaving me numb.' 4/ NOW he's 'restless'! That numbness is feeling mighty throwaway at this point but I like it so would work with it. Give us a lead up to this change, of him moving from a state of numbness to feeling 'restless'. One extra sentence transitioning between the two. Don't use 'suddenly'!!!!! 5/ I thought he was in the corridor? This is two sentences separated by a comma. Just lose the second part. At this late point we don't need to know how the chairs are set out. You've moved us through an emotional scene. Describe something like this before you ask the reader to go on an emotional journey with you. 6/ 'My right leg shook. It always did when I felt anxious.'.
 
Last edited:

Anamable

Senior Member
1/ First of all, 'numbness' isn't what you call a first line grabber, although, it's so short, the second sentence could also be included in that grabber. In this case, even with both it's not what you would call a grabber. Now that's out of the way, the craft: 'A feeling of feeling nothing at all.' Even if it isn't an overly complex sentence, it feels like one simply because of the one word sentence preceding it. I'd write it like this, in keeping with the opening sentence: 'Numbness. Feeling nothing.' Not only does it fit in with the first one word sentence, but it creates a nice 'build' towards the third sentence. Short/Medium/long: Da ... Da Da ... Da Da Da DA! 2/ You've asked a question in the fourth sentence and answered it immediately in the next paragraph. Because it's directly related to the question, I'd include it in the first paragraph.



1/ 'Weird' is a weak verb. It tells us nothing about the smell. 'Pungent' is better, so lead with that: 'A pungent hospital smell ...'. You've established we're in a hospital and so 'hospital' can be eliminated from the sentence. 'A pungent smell assaulted my senses.' The problem with that sentence is you've had to use the plural of 'sense'. The problem arose because you'd already used 'smell' and have associated the sense directly to the protag. There's no need for that. When writing in 1st or 3rd person, anything related to sight/sound/smell/touch/taste can simply be described: 'A pungent odour filled the wards' for instance. 2/ 'never liked them' is separate from the first statement and modifying it slightly, so I'd use a semicolon there, not a comma. But, in keeping with the style you used in the opening line, I'd want to write: 'I haven't been to many hospitals before. Never liked them.' I find 'I've not been' a tad awkward sounding. 3/ 'I wasn't sure' It's akin to using words like 'almost', 'nearly', 'as if'. I'm just taking the opportunity to point that out. In this case it's OK. As others have already pointed out, you use a hell of a lot of 'was' here and elsewhere. Those loosen the prose and make it feel flimsy, as well as including unnecessary repetition. I'm not certain about the word 'nestled' there. I'm going to guess you've actually chosen that word carefully to give the impression of timorousness. It's a word you can build around for this sentence and feeling, while also getting rid of those 'was's. Because I don't think it's necessary to use 'I wasn't sure', I'd go with something like 'It felt ominous, nestled in the corridor.' You don't need to keep reminding the reader you're in a hospital. 4/ 'Tipping my head backwards, I stared at the hospital ceiling' If you looked at the ceiling, you tipped your head back so that's self evident. We know we're in a hospital: 'I stared at the ceiling.' I'd move the description of colour into one sentence and remove that cliche 'white as snow'. KILL IT DEAD! 5/ 'coated with' is over the top there. 'painted' is a perfectly good word. You're in a hospital and you're feeling an ominousness. Instead of simply thinking of the white as a colour, think of it in relation to that feeling. This is where I may use a little symbolism. If you use 'glossy white' but note a patch of mould in one corner, you could suggest hospitals conceal the truth with their pristine look and antiseptic smell, while at the heart of it (the mould = YOU) knows it's not the case. It's up to you how you express that though. 6/ 'magnified' is usually associated with scale, although time as a concept could possibly be described in terms of scale. Here though, you've focused in on the ticks. We can also get rid of that 'was'. We haven't been introduced to the clock before and it isn't something we assume is in a hospital corridor, so it should be 'a clock'. If you refer back to it at some point, THEN you can use 'the': 'A wall clock intensified the silence.' 7/ What sort of a ward was she in? Of course you're going to be in the corridor where her ward would be, and you don't have to repeat she's fighting for her life. We can also get rid of that 'was' again: 'Serena fought for her life in intensive care.'



1/ 'shoot up'. It's a bit colloquial for your needs and doesn't necessarily create the right image. Use a simpler, more relevant way of describing it: 'The thought made the hair on my neck bristle.' 2/ I know exactly what you're doing when you write sentences like this because I used to do it too. You've got nothing in your head but the idea you want to convey, and so you begin the sentence and guide yourself through the maze of thinking until you arrive at the end. Trial the sentence in your head a few times before you place it down. Eventually, you'll do it without thought. This is a perfect example of it. 'of this incident', 'was such', 'that it has sapped'. All of that happened because you didn't have a structure already in mind. It's awkward. I'm having to look at this and think carefully about how I want to restructure it. I'm not just doing this easily. :) It takes a little more thought, that's all. I'm not a lover of 'emotions' there but because you've used the plural, the reader is going to try and think of what 'emotions' you mean. If you simply say 'emotion', then we immediately get the idea of 'no outward expression of concern', 'NUMB'. So, with all that taken into consideration: 'Shock sapped me of emotion.' It's up to you to square this with your early claim of it feeling 'ominous'. Personally, I'd reconsider the early descriptions of his emotions, and run with this numbness. 3/ I'd bring this into the previous sentence and simplify: 'Shock sapped me of emotion, leaving me numb and terrified.' Although, once again, consider 'terrified'. That's an emotion ... right? If he's numb with no emotion, he can't feel terrified: 'Shock sapped me of emotion, leaving me numb.' 4/ NOW he's 'restless'! That numbness is feeling mighty throwaway at this point but I like it so would work with it. Give us a lead up to this change, of him moving from a state of numbness to feeling 'restless'. One extra sentence transitioning between the two. Don't use 'suddenly'!!!!! 5/ I thought he was in the corridor? This is two sentences separated by a comma. Just lose the second part. At this late point we don't need to know how the chairs are set out. You've moved us through an emotional scene. Describe something like this before you ask the reader to go on an emotional journey with you. 6/ 'My right leg shook. It always did when I felt anxious.'.
Thanks a lot for this great help!
As I said, I'm not very experienced, I wasn't aware about the 'was' concept, thanks for pointing it out. Also, the molds is a great idea!
 
  • Like
Reactions: PiP

Anamable

Senior Member
Matchu made a good point about the linking verbs (copulas): was, were--essentially any form of "to be". Your piece of prose is very effective, but eliminating a few of those will spice it up--plus, some agents will ding you if the prose has too many. I'm going to disagree on Matchu, however, with "was magnified". I thought that sentence was (haha) quite evocative, and I don't see a fix for "was" which gives it the same feeling.

However, "was fighting" can be "fought". "The same color coated the walls". The sentence beginning "I wasn't sure" has four of them ... a bit weighty with the "to be's". So you'll wind up with what's called a "copular spider." See the image below.

Often a copula will be followed by a verb with "ing", as noted above in "was fighting", so you simply eliminate "was" and "ing" and it's fixed.

"was shaking" to "shook" is another example.

Sometimes you can get rid of it completely: Shock of this incident was such that it had sapped me of all emotions.

Sometimes you can simply replace the copula with a better verb. For example with "This is how I felt then", you could have "This illustrates how I felt then". By the way, I'm not saying "illustrate" is the best replacement choice there. That's a situation where I'm likely to fire up thesaurus.com and dig for the word I like best.

You don't have to replace ALL of the copulas, you just don't want to leave something like that diagram down there. :) Some of them will provide the mood you seek better than more active verbs.

However, overall that's a nice piece ... nice sentence structure outside of what I discussed, good flow, and it sets your mood. And frankly, I could live with most of those copulas for a section of prose only that long, but if you don't pay attention, you can wind up doing that for the whole book, and then you'd wind up having to fix hundreds of them in revision. :) I've looked at manuscripts from hopeful writers where the manuscript is filled with them, even in action scenes, and the narration eventually falls flat.

View attachment 26971
Thanks a lot!
I knew something was off here but couldn't understand what. Now I get it, I wasn't aware of the 'was' concept.
 

Anamable

Senior Member
That’s a nice couple of paragraphs.

If it was my draft I would shift the ‘you’ and ‘us’ toward ‘I’ up at the beginning - and allow the reader to share the sensation that way, let them nod their heads...

Later on, a string of verbs - magnified - being one of them, I’d remove the ‘was’ from all 3.

see you:)
Thank you!
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Thanks a lot for this great help!
As I said, I'm not very experienced, I wasn't aware about the 'was' concept, thanks for pointing it out. Also, the molds is a great idea!
No problem. One of the reasons I wanted a craft thread (which hopefully leads to a craft subforum), is so I can go through something more thoroughly. I enjoy doing it. It teaches me a lot and helps other people.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Moving it back here gives it a better trial period, so thank you to ever moved it! I'll re-post the OP:

Ok, so I'm trying something. I have been told if this is reasonably successful, a subforum could be made for it. So, please, try to keep it on topic.

The idea is to have a section purely for craft and nothing else. We have a section for grammar and we have the Writing Workshop section, but that section is really for short stories and novels. Yes you get critique there on style and craft but it's not specifically for craft and is such a broad church of critique, it doesn't lend itself well to nailing down craft alone. I hope this thread does just that. Other forums have a section like this so I see no reason we couldn't have one here too. From a quick scout around, they're popular.

So what's it about? Instead of posting whole stories or large sections of stories, you post a sentence or a paragraph (or three). Something you're not happy with and want to know how to improve. You could also ask for help with better word choice, better structuring, any number of craft related things. I've already done this a couple of times with things like my 'is this mournful?' thread but never really felt it fitted here well. I think a focused subforum would be helpful for a lot of people.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Does the last sentence feel like an afterthought?

Rev. Thomson had told the truth. The grave sat away from the jumble of headstones in a well-maintained corner. Flowers speckled the location, their growth unimpaired by the large willow tree draped across the area, swaying gently in the wind. Lichened bricks marked out the six foot by three-foot shallow mound of earth, at its top a headstone with ‘R.I.P’ engraved upon it. Only the willow tree moved, everything else locked in time like the apparition. The stillness felt like respect, not death.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Does the last sentence feel like an afterthought?
So, while it technically works fine without the last sentence, that sentence gives a tone that wasn't in the description until that line. The efforts describing the stillness being interpreted as respect rather than death creates a whole different feel (and even imagery) for me. Now, if the larger piece gets that across anyway, then I'd say it's unnecessary, but if that line alone gives the context for the stillness of respect, then it's doing its job. Of course that's just my reader impression. :)
 
Last edited:
Top