Many times those of you are in the business of writing worry about making that word count. ‘How will I write 80,000 words?’ is a question you ask yourself.
What you really ought to worry about though is how you will write a good sentence.
A sentence is made up of words and words don’t just come one after the other. They indicate a particular situation or action. These sentences make up a paragraph. So they are the building blocks of your novel and for that reason ought to be well thought out and well-connected to each other and the overall story.
There are so many aspects to sentence making. This is where the grammar of the sentence comes in. There are simple, compound and complex sentences. Then there are clauses, prepositions and phrases. Even the seasoned writer can have grammatical doubts. Always carry a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
And be in doubt; this is very important. Just because something is in print doesn’t mean it is correct. You should double check to see if your sentences are correct. Also if you are reading a copy of popular books in the market today, keep your eyes open for any obvious errors! You can learn from the mistakes of others.
What should you keep in mind when you write a sentence?
Besides grammar like sticking more to active than passive voice, a great deal goes into a sentence. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What do you really want to say?
- Is it best to use the vocabulary you have at your fingertips or do you need to visit the thesaurus?
- Has someone else been able to express the sentiment you have better than you have? Read it.
- Is a long sentence going to help you describe better?
- Is a short sentence sufficient to express a strong emotion like a mother’s grief at losing her child?
- Does this sentence deserve to stand alone, separate from the rest of the paragraph?
- Is this sentence good enough to start your essay or novel or is it a better ending?
Being conscientious about every sentence that you write will make the prose flow and whether your book is a commercial or literary one, it should be readable. For this, the sentences should flow.
Some links to help you write good sentences:
PS: Check out this Twitter post that explains the difference between short, medium and long sentences: https://twitter.com/lfoulkesy/status/715077404700631041