Meaning and Aim of a Sentence
Many writers spend a lot of time crafting their novel, novella, fiction or nonfiction book without taking the time to think how to create the specific sentence that will bring the appropriate mood to the reader.
But firstly, what is the aim of words in a story?
The aim of words is obviously to make sentences, which provide enough information to the reader to stimulate his imagination and transcend the words in images.
In this short definition, what means “imagination”?
The word imagination contains the following words: image (a representation of a real object), magi(magic), imagine (the way to create series of images in our mind, to visualize them in movement in our inner cinema).
And what “transcend” means?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means to rise above or go beyond the limits of…; to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of…: to overcome.
So, in short, the sentences will bring the reader beyond his own world where he will no longer read words but feels images, those you provided with your words. Exactly like when you are in a cinema watching an amazing movie. You do not think any more about the seat, the audience or even your popcorn.
No wonder we have to use an effective way for words to make sentences. But still, how long has the sentence to be?
It depends on the rhythm the writer wants to create. When I write, I read. If I have to take a long breath to read my sentence and still, I have to breathe again to finish the reading, it is probably a good sign your sentence is too long.
Without going in deep grammatical rules and talking about dependent and independent clauses, let’s take another direction. Let’s see how to make effective your words, sentences, paragraph, and even chapters!
Words: Avoid difficult words where the reader has to read your story with a dictionary. If you want to introduce new words, describe them or make a glossary at the end of your book. Otherwise, use mostly common words but not boring ones. The verbs to be and to have are great, but don’t overuse them. Use synonyms to vary your vocabulary. Use appropriate words to describe the emotion your character feels. Don’t go in similar and approximative meaning. Go to the point.
Sentences: This is the way to express information, but this new data should conduct the story. If sentences should, and must, drive the story, how to build them? I prefer to talk about the meanings behind the words. Remember about the rhythm? This is exactly, as a writer, the solution. The sentences follow the rhythm of the story and have only one goal, the end. Everything that is said should swirl into the funnel to one and only target. How to do so? Well, remember: the main purpose of the writer is to stimulate the reader’s imaginary. And despite all the facts you may put down, if you do not translate them with emotions and feelings, your words are empty and dry as a desert.
Technically speaking, sentences can be short like an independent clause, compounded like with two independent clauses, or complex which includes two independent clauses plus a dependent one.
Paragraphs: Series of sentences make paragraphs. Right! How to start a new one then? Well, again, think in term of grouping ideas having the same denominator point. Once you change this point, create a new paragraph, or finish your chapter.
Chapters: You create a new chapter when it’s time to change location, or the story jumps in time, other characters are involved, or another event happens. You may also want to finish the chapter with a cliffhanger, something that will make the reader turning the page to know what will happen in the following chapter. Even if this is a more than used way, the beginning of a chapter should also have something unusual to attract and keep the attention of the reader along the reading of it.
Case #1. Sentences are 2 km long. Long sentences are boring to read. Make them short to create or maintain suspense, longer to give the appropriate information. Moreover and mainly, avoid the “and… and… but… because… then… and…”
Case #2. Sentences are not related to the topic. The reader looks at them but because they are not related to the aim of the story, the interest is lost. No information is given to stimulate the reader’s imaginary. I call this, useless sentences. Every sentence has to bring new information to the reader in a way to help him build his own “inner show”. If you want to go further, guide him in the direction of challenging emotions where he may guess the ending, but of course you are mastering words and some imponderables will surprise him.
Case #3. Sentences are cold. You are only describing a scene, coldly, like a news reporter. You relate facts and the reader has the impression to watch… news. If you want to bring the reader in your world, add emotions. Make them challenging (to wake up the reader), imaginative (to stimulate him), sensitive (to inspire her), clever and informative (to arouse his intellectual). Don’t let the reader close your book.
Case #4. No dialogue. This is related to case #3. Not having any dialogues condemns the story in the descriptive world, narrating the evolution of characters without any “acting”. Adding dialogues to create life, make your story alive. This is also an interesting way to tell your story. When I was editing TV series, there was an expression saying “I don’t want to know it, I want to see it!” Same with a story, I don’t want to know what they are going to do, I want the characters saying it, living it, acting it.