Wednesday, February 23, 2011

200 FOLLOWER GIVEAWAY! + Sentences Makeovers

Woo! Thanks to all my newfound bloggy-buddies, I have reached 200+ followers. To celebrate, I am giving away private CHAPTER CRITIQUES (17 pages max). There will be THREE WINNERS chosen. Alternately, if you don't wish to have a chapter critiqued, I will offer copies of JUNCTION 2020 (my YA light fantasy POD novel) for giveaway. Your choice. To enter:

1. Be a follower of this blog
2. Comment on THIS post by Tuesday, March 1 at midnight PST
3. Be sure to say "enter me" or the equivalent so I know you're interested and not just cruising by as part of the Crusade
4. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing and announced Wednesday, March 2


As a writer, you cannot produce strong writing without crafting strong sentences. Each sentence must do its share of work. The foundation of the sentence must be sound as well as the parts. Here are some (simple, basic) ways to make the strongest sentences possible:

1. Use Strong, Active Verbs
Verbs are words that provide the ACTION in a sentence, so weak verbs can make a sentence sag. Weak verbs include "was/were" constructions as well as bland or unspecific verbs.

Okay: She was wearing a two-piece navy suit.
Better: She wore a two-piece navy suit.

Okay: The most beautiful lamp she'd ever seen was on the end table by the couch.
Better: The most beautiful lamp she'd ever seen stood on the end table by the couch.
Best: The most beautiful lamp she'd ever seen graced the end table by the couch.

Okay: Holding back her tears, Molly walked from the auditorium.
Better: Holding back her tears, Molly dashed from the auditorium.

Okay: He sat down with a sigh.
Better: He flopped down with a sigh.

2. Omit 99% of all adverbs
Adverbs--which tell HOW, WHERE, WHEN, or WHY--are usually unimaginative and indicate Telling. They are also often paired with unimaginative verbs. Most but not all end in "ly."

Okay: "Get out of my room!" she said angrily.
Better: "Get out of my room!" she yelled, shaking her fist in his face.

Okay: They walked along the riverside, talking cheerfully until the sun went down.
Better: They walked along the riverside, chattering like squirrels on caffeine until the sun went down.

Okay: She followed Uncle Festus hesitantly into the dining room.
Better: She followed Uncle Festus into the dining room, her shoes dragging across the carpet.

Okay: I watched a very good play last week.
Better: I watched an excellent play last week.

3. Be Spare With Adjectives
Choose your adjectives with care, and watch that you don't string bunches together in one sentence (alas, I adore doing so). Adjectives indicate: HOW MANY, HOW MUCH, WHICH ONE. Don't use an adjective with every single noun, and make sure two adjectives aren't saying the same thing.

Okay: The smoky, hazy cloud from the blaze swept across the land,
Better: The hazy cloud of smoke from the blaze swept across the land.

Okay: Far below the dark rocky cliffs, the blue-green sea thrashed itself into a dingy and frothy foam.
Better: Far below the dark cliffs, the sea thrashed itself into a dingy foam.
(Since cliffs usually are rocky, the sea is pretty much always blue-green, and frothy is close to foam, those adjectives are unnecessary.)

4. Be Careful Using Qualifiers
Watch the use of qualifiers such as: Quite, somewhat, rather, seem, appear, sort of, kind of, mostly, hardly, slightly, almost, nearly, probably, usually, barely, basically.
They dilute the strength of a statement in a sentence. If your character is truly hesitant or uncertain about something, it's one thing, but consider how much doubt you really want to indicate.

Okay: It appeared that Grandma's dog had escaped from the back yard again.
Better: Grandma's dog had escaped from the back yard again.

Okay: He was somewhat reluctant to open the package.
Better: He was reluctant to open the package.
Best: He wiped the dampness of his hands upon his jeans and took a steadying breath before he opened the package. (Show reluctance rather than tell about it, as well as omit the qualifier.)

Are you extremely fond of using adverbs or adjectives?
In rough drafts, do you use was and were a lot, and do you have to ferret them out later?
Do your verbs tend to be tired and unimaginative; do you have to spice them up later?
Do you tend to use a lot of qualifiers in your writing?

Are you going to enter the GIVEAWAY?


  1. Awesome advice~ thanks! And yes, I would love to be entered in your 200 follower contest :)

  2. I'm fond of both adverbs and adjectives. My second draft process always involved getting rid of a lot of them. And 'were' and 'was' are two of the words I search for, to make my writing stronger. I loved the examples you gave about qualifiers!

  3. Adverbs get me all the time. They require less thinking. ;)

    Congrats on hitting 200 . . . and I'd love to be entered into your contest!

  4. Congrats on the 200+ followers! I believe I'm at 200 exactly today. Woo hoo! :) Great contest - I would love one of your critiques, so please enter me! And this is fabulous advice on sentence structure. I'm guilty of over-using all of them, unfortunately. Kind of (see what I mean?) makes editing a nightmare.

  5. Congrats on all the followers! I wouldn't dream of inflicting my first novel chapters on you, but I wanted to voice my support and I'll be putting this giveaway in my sidebar for another lucky writer.
    - Sophia.

  6. Carol,
    Such great advice...can I print this out?
    Also, I couldn't help wondering if you critique my blog as you are reading? If so, how can I make it better?
    yes, oh please, ENTER ME!!!

  7. PS...forgot to mention that I think it is wonderful you have more than 300 followers...when you set out did you ever think you'd have that many? I say that because I wondered if I'd ever get to 25 :)

  8. Since I am in full edit mode on my WIP, this post is perfect. Thank you for the examples! And yes, please enter me in your contest. Congrats to you for reaching the 200+ mark, and congrats to me for finding you!

  9. Congrats on 200 Carol! Always great advice on the sentences.

  10. Great advice! Congrats on all the followers, and please enter me! :)

  11. 223 Followers. Fantastic. Go you. Rah.

  12. Congrats! I feel like you were just celebrating 100 not too long ago, so that is AWESOME. I don't have anything worth critiquing yet, but I wanted to stop in and congratulate you. And this is a GREAT post - awesome examples, Carol!!

  13. Great advice! And congrats on the followers, please enter me in the contest!

  14. Enter ME!!! Congrats on your followers--I know why because you share great advice!

  15. Enter me for the book pretty please :)

    I love these examples. It's always better to learn through seeing the examples. Oh and I do a lot of ferreting in my revisions. ;)

    Congrats for your many followers! Sky-rocketting :)

  16. I enjoyed your writing tips, and now I am a new follower. Thanks for the giveaway, I'd love to enter that too.

  17. Where were you, Carol, when I first started writing? ;)

    Congrats on hitting 200 followers.

    I'd love to enter. :D

  18. Please enter me in the giveway!

    And yes, I tend to use a ton of weak verbs. I have to change a lot of my "is wearing"s to "wears"s (since I write in present tense)!

  19. I lean on my qualifiers and then chuck them as I rewrite them.
    Great points!

    Also, no need to enter me--I have won a lot of stuff lately and feel guilty. Time to let other people win!

  20. Congrats on 200 followers - that's amazing!!! What a great contest too - enter me pleeeeeze!!!

  21. Ohh I know those adverbs lurk in my novel. This was a great and demonstrative post. Thank you.

    Congratulations on 200 followers! Enter me please.

  22. Very nice examples of strong sentences! Hi from a fellow crusader!

  23. I'm definitely extra fond of adjectives and adverbs. And I find that often my vocabulary can be kicked up a notch too. Great post!

  24. I am the world's worst about using passive action for everything. Ugh!

  25. I forgot to say this in my previous post -- please enter me!

  26. I'm guilty of all of the above. Thank God Almighty he placed an awesome editor in my path because I make a lot of goofy mistakes.

  27. Congratulations on your followers! I'd like to enter the giveaway, please.
    I use qualifiers all the time - especially nearly, almost, seemed - and have to weed them out at every stage of editing. I wonder why I can't stop writing them in as I draft?

  28. Enter me and thanks for the writing tips.

  29. Good tips to keep in mind! ENTER ME!

  30. Congrats on 200 followers and thanks for the great tips :)



  31. You always have such great posts about writing and awesome tips. Thank you.

    I would love to be entered for a critique by you.

    Thank you so much!

  32. Congrats on 200 followers! Please enter me in the contest, I would love a critique. Excellent advice! I am trying to learn more technical writery stuff. I'm afraid I do all of those things!

  33. You have surpassed the 200 mark and still going. Congratulations. Yes, please "ENTER ME!" It sounds like a great opportunity and I love the sentence advice.

  34. Those qualifiers are what kill me. I use a deep 3rd person most often and part of me is saying 'but how would they KNOW?' and it takes everything I have to step back as have them observe the evidence without drawing the conclusion 'it seemed' And Enter me!

  35. I love stringing adjectives!!!! Ferreting out is my life. Probably because I tend to overwrite, and am always looking to lower my word counts. Qualifiers? Ha! I have a list of them that I run through the "find" feature before my final polish!

    Glad to have found you... you can definitely enter me :)

  36. Congrats on passing the 200 mark. Fellow Crusader her popping over to say hi!

  37. Oh and adverbs don't work together! I'm a fellow YA writer and crusader exploring your blog! :)

  38. These are great... it's amazing how changing one or two words makes a sentences SO much better. AND, yay for the contest! I want to win.

  39. Wow this post won me over to your blog!

    ENTER ME....

  40. Enter me! Enter me, fellow crusader group buddy! Sounds like a great giveaway.

    Congrats on reaching 200!

  41. Congrats on your followers! And this is truly great advice... I'm guilty of many of these.

  42. Hello!
    Milestones are exciting... as are giveaways!

  43. Great post, Carol! Thanks for sharing :)


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