Friday, July 20, 2012

The First Sentence and Phonetics

At the moment, I am working on understanding the phonetics chard and how the sounds of syllables can have intercourse with rhythm, meter and rhyme. I’m not fully understanding it all yet because it will take some time to make all the knowledge stick. After that, it’ll take more time to make it working knowledge. Here’s a link to the chart if any of you are interested.

I’m also giving you the consonants chart which I made myself for the purpose of getting the knowledge to stick.

*That j should be in the "aproximate" section.

Now, something to think about while you’re working for the week—the first sentence. We live in an age of sensation. Psychology is utilized for advertising and music often matches the average beats of our hearts and we are always on the internet or watching television or playing with aps on our phones. How’s a boring old line of text going to grab someone’s attention?

No one knows. The industry is sinking and they’ve turned to pornography and BDSM to keep people reading. (50 Shades of Grey, click here for the funniest review ever written about a book in the history of the world. This book’s bound to go the way of the Hanson’s.)

Okay, truth is, writing a great first sentence is not easy, but here’s some tricks.
a. Do not say, “It was 12:00am in the morning, and it was hot outside.” No one cares about the weather report unless they’re in it. There’s plenty of better ways to work time and morning into your stories
            b. Do not say, “I was dreaming.” People that don’t know you don’t care about your dreams.
c. Like Facebook, no one cares what you’re eating, generally, unless it’s truly spectacular, but then I want a recipe or a place to get it.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll write a sentence and we’ll see about making it better in steps.

Jim was walking quickly, he just left his red car and crossed the street without noticing the lack of streetlight or what was stealthily hidden in shadows, waiting silently.

Jim was walking quickly.This has to go, and the ly word all lys slow down stories, so try to avoid them. No, don’t use them. Sometimes, but only when absolutely necessary. And don’t use passive language without intention, and never at the beginning of a story..

He just left his red car and crossed the street. I won’t get into the passivity of the entire fragment, but for the most part, it sucks. Why do I have this detail about a red car? No one cares what color Jim’s car is. Not even his mother really cares about the color. I’m still trying find out if I even like Jim enough to read his story.

Without noticing the lack of streetlight. Really, that’s the best I could do in a scene where I’m trying to build suspense?

Or what was stealthily hidden in the shadows, waiting silently. I cringe at this.  If something is hidden in the shadows, what does stealthily add to the person hidden in the shadows. Yep, nothing. Silently. If something is hidden in the shadows, don’t we know it is silent? Every extra word advances the readers bullshit meter—you only have so many.

Here’s the new sentence.

Jim slammed the car door and rushed across the street without noticing the dead streetlights or the man that watched him from the shadows.

Now, one more pass. Let’s get rid of the before dead. The is unnecessary and slows the sentence down.

Jim slammed the car door and rushed across the street without noticing dead streetlights or the man that watched from the shadows.

I know, I took him out too. I know it’s a bit trivial, but I don’t think him was necessary, so I took it out too. I hate waste. Brick one is ready and placed. Keep building.

Coming up next week:

Outlines and freewriting--which do we use?
more on phonetics and their importance for writing (probably going to be studying that all summer)
Twitter @wadejoseph86

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