A blog on reading, writing and life

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sound Awarness in Sentence-Level Revision

People often talk about sentence level-revision in really vague terms. I write a lot of sentences that have strong action verbs and no unnecessary words, but still sound flat. I went searching and found this pretty interesting style guide on Necessary Fiction.
  • Value nouns and verbs over adjectives and especially adverbs.
  • Value consonants over vowels.
  • Value hard consonants (e.g. k) over soft consonants (e.g. g).
  • Value words of one syllable over words of two syllables over words of three syllables, etc. Though precision is important, and sometimes the right word is the longer word.
  • Each sentence should include more stressed syllables than unstressed syllables (a la Lish).
  • A sentence with a masculine ending (stressed syllable) sounds stronger than one with a feminine ending (unstressed syllable).
  • Avoid using the word was when possible. A lot of this has to do with using the right action verb.
  • Avoid introductory clauses (e.g. Closing my eyes, I smiled) except when used as time or location markers (At five o’clock, When I got back from the store, In the supermarket).
  • Using common words, or colloquial words, in new ways, is more interesting than using uncommon words in normal ways.
  • Avoid “begin” or “start” or intermediate actions (e.g. I began to sing. He started walking. He got up from the couch and went to the door. Just write: I sing. He walked. He went to the door.)
  • Value consonance and assonance over alliteration.
  • In almost all instances, use “say” or “ask” instead of other dialogue tags.
 While I've heard many of these before, (use "say" as often as possible for a dialogue tag, avoid the word "was"), the advice on stresses and consonant sounds is new to me. I'll have to try revising with these things in mind. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"50 Shades of Grey" Rewritten by Six Literary Authors

William Shakespeare:

Christian:  'Satasia, hast thou ever receivéd

blows hard, forcéd by one rippling crop?

 Ana: My lord, you do intend country matters?

  

Christopher Marlowe:

Christian: Nay, I who possess such a lusty cock,

And doth harbor a rude satyr's prowess,

Will use such tools that make the panties drop,

To prove my power is stronger than God's.



Ernest Hemingway:

Christian stares in his whiskey. It is amber and cold. He doesn't speak.

She hears the ice chink. And she remembers the rain.

“Will it make you happy?” she asks. She doesn't look at his face. She looks at the elephant head hung over the mantel.

“Do you think it will make me happy?” he says. He raises his glass as if he is about to drink. But then he sets it down on the brown square napkin.



Oscar Wilde:

“I do say, firstly, my dear Anastasia, I do not make love. I fuck. And hard at that,” said Christian. The butler arrived with another silver platter of sugar, but Christian waved him away and continued with his tea.

“Well, Christian,” said Ana, “you do talk good sense. I never did see the point of making love if you weren't fucking hard.”

“But secondly,” continued Christian. “I have far too much paperwork.”

Now, Ana could see no sense in that. But it was such a lovely day in the garden, with Christian's golden curls glowing like Adonis in the sun. And if only to preserve the grace of his steely gaze, she felt most inclined to agree.



Sharon Olds:

Memories—of feeling him inside my mouth

all the way to the back of my throat.

The lights seem too bright—

or is that just my memory,

a reconstruction of the events we passed.

My tongue, I'm sure, swirled around his tip.

Almost, just almost,

like a popsicle.



Arthur Rimbaud:

There was the idea of balls and the idea of thread, but what belonged inside her muscles, stomach? And the Inner Goddess danced the seven veils.

Oh! Curious feelings: boats and old cities. Within her, it rang like bells. She felt risen—ready to open as a flower. And the Inner Goddess danced the seven veils.