View Full Version : Linking two thoughts together.

02-04-2011, 09:03 PM
A guy in my writing group went through my manuscript and highlighted every place where I had joined two independent clauses with and. Apparently I use this construction all the darn time, enough so that it really popped out at him. I'm trying to branch out and not use the and so much, but I find it hard to avoid. What are some other ways to handle this? Here's a wee example from something I'm working now (whole paragraph included for context, problem sentences underlined):

Iíve got a flat-topped chest that I keep some gear in, across from my bunk in the stern. I pull a blanket off my bunk and fold it up on top of the chest. After a minute, I add my pillow. When I go above again, the girl is half-way to the open hatch, unwilling, apparently, to let go of her last handhold and step across to it. I reach out a hand to help her, and she takes it without a word. She settles down in the little bed, and turns her face to the wall. I go back up.

02-04-2011, 09:09 PM
Well, it doesn't seem like a terrible flaw in your writing, just from that sample, but if you do it often enough I could see how it would get repetitive. The simplest fix that comes to mind for me is "I reach out a hand to help her. She takes it without a word." Or "Without a word, she takes my hand." Divide some sentences up into two or more parts.

One thing you might try, to help you with sentence structure and rhythm and all that good stuff is to take a book or two that you love, and transcribe a few pages verbatim, into an empty Word document. NOT with the intention of plagiarizing the author, of course, but to really internalize the way others use words.

02-04-2011, 09:09 PM
...to let go of her last handhold and step across to it. I reach out a hand to help her, and she takes it without a word. She settles down in the little bed, and turns her face to the wall. I go back up.

Some folks just have an itch that has to be scratched. One of these isn't even a compound sentence.

I'm a compulsive and'er. I have to go through every chapter as I write it and break up most of the compound sentences, many of which are linked for no good purpose. You haven't done that.

02-04-2011, 09:37 PM
It doesn't look like that big a problem to me, but then again, I haven't read the whole manuscript. I agree with Ambri. Divide the longer sentences into two separate ones. It has the added benefit of providing an active voice.

Changing the sentence structure is a good idea too, but again, moderation is the key. Read the sentence aloud when you're done. Chances are if it sounds wrong, it'll read wrong too.

Susan Littlefield
02-05-2011, 12:18 AM

A lady in my critque group does that too- she hates "and" to join sentences. She'll even use comma splices to separate the two related senteces, which is improper grammar. However, this is just her thing and I understand it.

While criitque feedback provides as a learning tool, you must always always trust your own instince.

As for your passage above- nicely done.

02-05-2011, 05:56 AM
I wouldn't worry about it too much. If you see a number of sentences with that kind of construction right in a row, then work to change some of them. But as long as you have sufficient variation in your other sentences, I'd just keep it in mind as something to watch out for when you're revising.

02-05-2011, 02:57 PM
There's nothing at all wrong with your construction. Nothing should be overused, but a novel without such sentences is going to be choppy and difficult to read. My guess is you're just using too many such sentences, probably one after another.

Varying sentence length is important, but do not allow anyone to remove all such sentences. That would be a terrible flaw.