Self-Editing Awkward Sentences

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Even though I write blog posts about writing, I make the mistakes I blog about. One problem my editors have noted is awkward sentences.

In editing the sentences, I’ve learned

  • ways a writer might find these sentences,
  • what can cause awkward sentences,
  • and that sometimes the awkwardness is subtle and the writer can’t see or hear it.

Find Awkward Sentences During Self-Editing

1. Listen to an automated reader read your chapters. For me, the automated reader’s expressionless voice makes strange wording jump out.

2. Let your chapter sit for a while. After I let mine sit for at least two weeks, I become more like a reader. The sentences are less familiar to me, and I can spot awkward constructions.

3. Find a good critique group or partner. No matter how often I go through my chapter, I’ll have a sentence that will appear awkward to others. My critique partner will usually mark the sentence(s).

4. Hire an editor within your means. When I was in a situation in which I knew a professional editor wouldn’t be available, I hired one.

Causes of Awkward Sentences

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1.The writer tries to express too much in one sentence. Break the sentence into two or more sentences and tighten them.

Example:

Jim’s floor plan sounded acceptable, so he’d go with Jim to see his house, and if the place measured up to what Jim described, maybe he’d make him an offer if he felt he didn’t need an agent.

Improved:

Jim’s floor plan sounded acceptable, so he’d go with Jim to see his house. If the place measured up to what Jim described, he might make an offer without involving an agent.

2. The second half of a sentence doesn’t follow from the first.

Example:

He was going crazy, but his mother liked Elsie’s friendliness.

Improved:

Elsie’s constant chatter drove him crazy, but his mother liked the girl’s friendliness.

3. A phrase doesn’t represent the best description of an action. Restate the sentence using a concrete verb.

Example:

She approached Jacob without looking at the creep.

(Without looking at was a phrase I used that an editor marked as awkward. I don’t think I’d have recognized its awkwardness without someone’s help.)

Improved:

As she approached Jacob, she looked away from the creep. (Context lets us know Jacob is the creep)

4. Necessary information is omitted. Spell out everything that needs to be said.

Example:

At his rate of offers, her blood pressure might register normal by the end of the day.

Improved: 

Thanks to all his offers to help her, her blood pressure might register normal by the end of the day.

5. Unnecessary information is included. Remove words that confuse the meaning of a sentence.

Example:

The other houses looked the same with their fenced cow pastures and harvested cornfields groomed behind them.

Improved:

The other houses looked the same with their fenced cow pastures and harvested cornfields behind them.

Ways to find and fix awkward sentences. Click to tweet.

What methods do you use to edit your work?

Amazon Link

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond, Virginia. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, star football player and prom king Trigg Alderman, is in Twisty Creek visiting his grandmother who lives next door. He doesn’t recognize Candace at first and remembers little about her. He’s not alone. 

Candace’s rekindled attraction to Trigg adds unexpected complications to finding her passions. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

 

It’s OK for a Writer to …

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As 2017 ended, I contemplated how I could make 2018 calmer for me as a writer. My word for 2017 was CALM. Focusing and praying on staying calm last year has blessed me. Since January, God has healed me of chronic insomnia and shown me how to receive the peace He offers. So as I leave my year of CALM, I wanted to list other things that will continue my calmness as I go forward.

It’s OK for a Writer to …

 

Platform, Promotion, and Marketing

 

image by ArtsyBee

♥ Take off holidays from posting blogs. I faithfully blog once a week. This year I simply wished my readers well at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was sincere in my wishes, and the break in blogging revitalized me. 

♥ Use the learning and research performed during writing, marketing, and platform building as topics for blogs. For me, this quickly produces blogging ideas, and the research is mostly done.

♥ Accept offered help. This may be from several people. After my husband retired, he took over the vacuuming, shopping, and laundry so I could write. Then, he read and offered input on my manuscripts. This year, he has revamped my spreadsheets that track my sales for tax reporting and my inventories. He does several marketing tasks, and he’s going with me to a writer’s conference. Hurray! He’s even learned to make memes! Relief for me.

♥ Say no to disliked promotion activities or those that experience or research has shown aren’t worth the work. For me, that’s TV or Radio interviews, blog tours, and non-reader-related fairs.

♥ Ask for information or help to make progress. I’m respectful of others’ time, but I’ve learned most publishing staff, other writers, and readers want to help. And many who can’t, wish they could.

Writing

♥ Write in the style and manner that personally works best. For me, I like to create a thought-out journey, then have the freedom to be creative along the way as I listen to my characters.

♥ Make mistakes in drafts. I was surprised at how many of the “mistakes” I write about in my blogs I did in my latest draft. For my draft, this is OK.

♥ Learn from mistakes. Now, as I write and edit, my critique partner sits on one shoulder, my editors sit on the other, and my writing blog posts perch atop my head. These kind people want my story to be the best it can be. I enjoy hearing them speak to me as I write.

<<>>

My word for 2018 is BOLD. If I’m truly bolder, I’ll be less anxious and that will contribute to my calmness. And I’ll take better care of myself in this demanding profession.

Writers, give yourselves permission to __. And enjoy the writing profession in 2018. Click to tweet.

If you have a word that represents what you’d like to work on this year, would you share it with us? And what will you give yourself permission to do or not do?

 

 

Amazon Link

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong

Top 10 Posts Visited in 2017

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I wish you a Happy New Year in 2018. May your endeavors, relationships, and joy be rich. 

Thank you for visiting my blog on writing, marketing, blogging, and speaking. Below are the ten blog posts most frequented in 2017 from most popular, down. Enjoy.

#1  7 Examples of Writing Great Word Pictures for Your Stories

#2  13 Guidelines for When to Start a New Paragraph in Your Story

#3  12 Story Plot Twist Ideas – Part 1

#4  50 Ideas for Author Newsletter Content

#5  12 Story Plot Twist Ideas – Part 2

#6  Diary of a Book Marketing Plan – Setup

#7  8 Tips in Writing Deep Point of View

#8  Diary of a Book Marketing Plan – Entry 2

#9 Don’t Let Weasel Words Suck the Life From Your Writing

#10  Don’t Detail Every Movement Your Story Characters Make

Again, Happy New Year!

Amazon Link

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.