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Monday, February 14, 2011

Building Blocks


This week I am covering Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools. Today, I want to look at some sentence structure basics that impact pace, meaning & connotation.

Subject/Verb Dichotomy - First the noun, then the action. What follows is the subordinate clause to create a "right-branching sentence."

Ex: Jodi ran, her heart pounded in her veins as she threw branches from her path.

The action is in the first two words; what follows comprises what the writer wants the reader to feel about the 'run'.

Ex: Jodi ran in measured steps to the beat of a song pulsing in her ears and to her feet as they glanced the pavement.

Alignment & Emphasis - Clark suggests the placement of strong elements at the beginning & the end with the weaker bits sprinkled in the middle.

Ex: Jodi ran, her heart palpitated as she mounted the steps & entered her son's school.

Yep, her little heart is a-racin', but placing the emphasis on the son & his school at the end brings new meaning, urgency & level of feeling. The action sets the tone; the ending stretches the tension. The middle gives the connective information that helps the reader identify with Jodi's emotional state.

Activation - Active verbs = action performed by subject. 
Passive verbs = the action happening to the subject. 
Connective verb = a form of to be.

Ex: Jodi ran.

Ex: The grocery cart ran into Jodi.

Ex: That grocery cart will hit Jodi if she doesn't get off her phone in time.

Sheesh, poor Jodi ran a marathon of emotional & other crises. I do freely admit that these sentences leave chunks to be desired, but I hope, ** (fingers crossed), that I got the meaning across the ether. 

Happy Writing,

Patti

5 comments:

  1. One of my biggest grammar issues is the strength in my sentences. Thank you for this cool reminder.

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  2. Good examples of showing emotional reaction tied to the action. Great reminder that it can be done.

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  3. PS: I'm mentioning you in my blog this week.

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  4. Hey Clarissa,
    You bet.
    Kay,
    Thanks & thanks!!

    You are both awesome!!!

    Patti

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  5. This sounds really cool! I'll have to check it out! Thanks for sharing :)
    New follower!Register Domain

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