Fix-it Friday: Overstuffed sentences

Line-editing is now part of editing my book Fix-It Fridays!

fifWay back in our Secret Sauce Series, we talked about overstuffed sentencessentences where we’re trying too hard to appear writerly, putting too much information, being entirely too clever, and just generally confounding our readers.

Once upon a time, I must have held a subconscious belief that a “real” writer made their sentences work two and three times as hard. That’s probably true in a way—each action of a story, each scene and maybe each sentence can accomplish more than one thing.

But instead, I took that to mean that the more complex a sentence, the better. But that’s simply not the case. Yes, sentences should work hard for us as writers and serve several purposes. But there’s a limit to how much you can pack into a sentence or paragraph and still be intelligible to readers.

Here are a couple such overweighted sentences from my own works:

#1 (the passage that taught me this lesson!)

How must the buildings that were so familiar she hardly noticed them look to Father O’Leary? Three years ago, she compared the Gothic chapel, its stone façade flanked by blazing maples in a carpet of lawn, to her parents’ church in city center. At the time, St. Adelaide seemed a suburban oasis; three weeks ago she was disabused of that notion.

“I’m sure it’ll get to feelin’ like home soon enough,” she murmured.

And #2

I slip onto the back porch, but the door latch I’m expecting to hear behind me doesn’t come by the time I reach the stairs.

And #3

Those fears and feelings, raw and vulnerable, echoing through me, must be why I finally have to pull back to wipe away my tears.

Next time (Sept 13 27!), I’ll share how I fixed them—but first, what would you do? Come share!

Photo by HomeSpot HQ

4 thoughts on “Fix-it Friday: Overstuffed sentences”

  1. Oh! It let me comment. Can I squee?

    Some of this I blame of our English teachers in school. They’re the ones who tend to give assignments of a certain number of words. Unfortunately that trains our minds to craft sentences in the most convoluted way possible to get that word count. It’s something we have to unlearn with business writing where KISS is a huge factor. It’s hard to break old habits. lol

    1. I think you’re right. I think the tendency to believe that complicated = good writing hurts a lot of us!

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