If you’ve landed here at Vanilla Grass for the first time, this post is part of a bi-weekly series, and this week’s Tips to Improve Writing (#7 – Tighten Sentences) begins with two examples for comparison. Which do you think is better for storytelling? Can you spot the words that make one example less appealing? Hint, tightening sentences doesn’t always refer to making them shorter, but rather, making it so every word within a sentence contains more of an impact.
As I sat in the noisy park, I felt cold from the stone bench on my legs. I saw a little bird hopping along on the ground. The sparrow’s limp wing reminded me of my break-up, and I thought about how much I missed Cornelius, even if he was a dirty cheat.
Children danced around the playground, laughing and skipping despite my mascara-stained cheeks. Why Cornelius? Why did you fall for the frumpy librarian?
Cold from the stone bench seeped through my favorite thread-bare jeans as I leaned forward and covered my face. Maybe I could disappear. No one had noticed me sitting alone. Who would care if I slipped away?
A peck, peck, pecking sounded below me. I split my fingers and braved a smile at the cute little bird hopping on the concrete. But then it turned, revealing a bent wing. Like me it was broken. Like me, it was alone.
How to Tighten Sentences
Which example drew you in? Hopefully, example two.
Here’s why the first example lacked. I used phrases that almost always weaken writing: I thought, I saw, I missed. These words are conducive to telling, not showing. Others like them are looked, felt, and remembered. These words are crutches used to eventually get to the point. When these phrases, and many like them, are removed, your writing can reach a whole new descriptive, immersive level.
Try searching for some of these words in your writing and reword sentences to eliminate. Did it improve your story?
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