I’m still at it. There have been other priorities that have been taking over as of late, yet I managed to create and format a new manuscript for Valterra. Though I don’t think I’ll send it out before reading it through on paper, taking notes, and making one more round of changes. I haven’t had a complete read through since before I starting posting to Wattpad. Now that it’s a featured story there and doing well (up over 6000 views since June 2, 11k views in total) I most likely won’t bother editing the online version. I will maintain my edits to the manuscript only and when I feel it’s completely done, I’ll mail it out.
I thought I’d write about a quick tip I learned that seemed to help one of my peers on Wattpad who was having her story critiqued by the #NBR team. She had a bunch of short but descriptive sentences in her scene. So much so that it made it choppy to read and didn’t help fully engage to reader to visualize her setting and characters.
I told her about a tip I’ve learned to stretch a sentence. I’ve been teaching it to kids now at the library for a couple years. Basically, it gives you a formula to create the most visual and engaging sentence for your reader.
It’s simple really. Ask yourself this series of questions when trying to stretch a sentence. Who? Is doing what? When? Where? Why?
It’s very easy to apply to any sentence that needs a bit more detail while your editing. With kids, we start off bare bones;
Who? My stinky dog.
Is doing what? My stinky dog is taking a bath.
When? My stinky dog is taking a bath tonight.
Where? My stinky dog is taking a bath tonight in our tub with tomato juice.
Why? My stinky dog is taking a bath tonight in our tub with tomato juice because he got sprayed by a skunk.
But this formula works with any sentence structure. If you’ve already clearly described the who, what and when… make sure you add the where and why!
Here’s an example of a few sentences from a short story of mine. I’ll post the paragraph before and after adding this formula.
Dusk was inevitable. Jax sat in his cellar waiting for this specific dusk’s approach. The sun’s glow still lingered over the horizon, but with each passing moment it’s pink hue faded to grey.
Dusk was inevitable. Jax sat in his cellar, wishing things were different and waited for it’s arrival as the hairs on his arms and neck tingled in anticipation. The sun’s glow still lingered over the horizon, but with each passing moment, while its pink hue faded to grey, Jax’s pulse raised as steadily as the coming moon.
This quick tip allows you to identify what information is missing, not only from sentences, but also short descriptive paragraphs as well.
Hope this helps anyone working with a rough draft and are looking for new ways to pull the most out of your story and really make it come alive for your readers.