Thursday, 20 January 2011


Writing? If you are thinking Foxtrot - pacing your novel slow, slow, quick, quick, slow - then it may be very hard to sell your work. However, if you’re aiming for the Quick Step’s hops, skips, side kicks, as well as the runs, chasses side-steps and turns... you may have the agent-of-your-dreams breathless with anticipation.

I’m going off on a serious dance metaphor. The next few posts will look remarkably like the score card used by the judges on Dancing-with-America’s-Next-Best-Gotta-Dance:
1.   Timing - Related to tempo & rhythm of the music/the narrative.

Timing is the drip-feed of incidents and action but it can also describe the affect of your sentence construction.

The tempo and rhythm of the action is the basic melody and the emotional tension is the harmony – or discordant tones – used to layer the sound of the music. A lull, lowering the intensity, is useful so you can spin it in and lift it higher.

Varying the sentence types and lengths creates the timing – the rhythm of the writing. Punctuation is - usually - essential and so is using a wide variety of connectors.


1 declarative *say it,
2 interrogative *ask it,
3 imperative *demand it and
4 conditional *consider the options

1. A simple sentence of one independent clause and no dependent clauses. 

Myra ran through woodland everyday.

2. A compound sentence of two or more independent clauses may be connected by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet), a semicolon alone, or a semicolon and an adverb (a transitional phrase).

Myra ran through woodland everyday but she wondered what it might be like to walk there. Most visitors were blissfully ignorant of the dangers; Myra wasn't one of them. Some laughed when they peered out from the shelter of the trees; however, they were outnumbered by the ones who screamed.

3. A complex sentence is composed of one independent clause (the main clause is bold) and one or more dependent clauses starting with: when, if, before, because, although, after, unless, since 

While she was running through the dim forest, Myra encountered many living things.

Although she hated how it made her feel, Myra left the forest with fewer residents, whenever that was possible.

4. A compound-complex sentence of a compound sentence with a complex structure. It contains two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. 

Even if her soul drained away with the blood she spilled, muddying the sandy dust of Brecon Forest’s floor, Myra’s spirit attracted The Frayed like the glitter of candlelight drew other pests and she had no choice about the killing when her flesh was their idea of a feast.

For the timing to be right, and the reading to be easy, sentence lengths need to vary.

I had a link for a site that helped me with the sentence explanation but I lost it when I shut the page down - :(  - tidying up, never good. So, I'd like to thank everyone who posts the amazingly helpful content I read every day. 

I would love to read a simple or complex sentence from your WIP; you could post one, of any type, in the comments. :)


  1. Great post- I'm chiming in sentence from my WIP is :

    Shray found herself still sitting on the couch, but in a vast meadow filled with thick bright green grass and no one around as far as she could see.

  2. Here's a sentence from my WIP:

    The technology had been outstripped by millennia of new inventions, but it had been a revelation at the time.

  3. Interesting analogy...have you read point counter point by huxley...also relates writing to music.

    New follower...

  4. Well done, thank you, and here's a really random one of mine - simple:

    This is definitely not on my list of things I want to do.

  5. Informative piece. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I consider sentence variation during one of the final edits.

    "How do we get there?"

  6. Hi Summer
    Thanks *grins
    You have me wondering how Shray and the couch came to be in the meadow - I'm guessing really vivid visions?

    Hi GE
    Thanks for positing this sentence. I love sci-fi.
    The word outstripped creates a vivid image - pulling the heart out of it tearing at it with there strides away to a cleaner technology.

    Hi Demitria
    Thanks for joining the bricks and the wall ;)
    I haven't read Counterpoint but I'm feeling the need to add it to my TBR list ;)

    Hi Jolene
    Thanks for positing your sentence.
    It's a long sentence for panic so I'm not seeing an immediate danger. Your character is already on the brink of doing the thing. Quite wry so more embarrassing that dangerous. Feel competent about succeeding at the task :)

    Hi M
    "sharing wisdom" ? I'm sad *hangs head I think of it as learning along together. (I had to research the correct terminology ;))
    Thanks for positing your sentence.It is short and there isn't a lot to go on.
    Sounds like a submissive and dominant pair - same gender. The distance is not easy to bridge arduous and equipment is needed. I don't see them rushing off without preparation.