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Stop Boredom: Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences


Vary image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards
Vary image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

 

“Stop Boredom! Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences” by Joan Y. Edwards

Vary the beginnings of your sentences to incite interest and keep boredom from putting your readers to sleep. First, I’ll explain the different parts of speech. Then I will give you two writing exercises. I hope you enjoy them. I’ll do them, too. We’ll compare notes in the comment area.

Parts of Speech:

  • noun

name of person, place, or thing: Jacob, Denver, stapler.

  • pronoun

word used that refers to an earlier mentioned person, place, or thing. He, she, it, we, you, they, them, etc.

  • verb

action word or state of being

  • adjective

description of noun or pronoun

Adjectives are describing words:  Jane wore a yellow scarf. She needed a heavy jacket.

The words – a, an, the – are special adjectives called articles. Articles are words that determine whether the noun following it is a certain, definite noun or an indefinite one, meaning any, not a specific one.  

For example: There is a book on the table. She is an angel. Jacob is the winner. 

  • preposition

Hunter College Reading Writing Center states that a preposition is a connecting word that shows the relationship of a noun or a noun substitute to another word in the sentence. Here are nine most used prepositions:  at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, with. Here are others: about, after, along, around, beside, between, over, through, under, up

Many phrases that explain which, where, when, why, or how use prepositions.

The girl with the feather stood up. (Which girl? The girl with the feather)

He went to the party. (Where did he go? to the party)

The team played with great vigor. (How did the team play? with great vigor)

The players drank plenty of water after the game,. (When did they drink plenty of water? after the game)

Jacob ran for shelter.  (Why did Jacob run? for shelter)

  • adverb

word that describes a verb by answering the question when, where, why, how, and under what conditions something happened or happens. Many adverbs end in -ly. Not all words that end in -ly are adverbs: like lovely, lonely, and motherly are adjectives, not adverbs.

Jacob raced the car yesterday. (When did Jacob race the car? Yesterday)

The student walked here. (Where did the student walk? Here)

Jacob drove fast. (How did Jacob drive? fast)

Cecilia planted grass to stop erosion. (Why did Cecilia plant seeds? to stop erosion. This is an infinitive adverbial phrase that answers the question why?)

  • conjunction

is a word that joins or connects parts of a sentence: words to words, phrases to phrases, or clauses to clauses. Here are examples of coordinating conjunctions that join parts of sentences that are the same:  and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet

Subordinating conjunctions that join dependent clauses to independent clauses are: after, although, as, as if, as long as, as though, because, before, even if, even though, if, if only, in order that, now that, once, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, till, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, while.

Info about conjunctions: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm

Towson University: More info about conjunctions: http://www.towson.edu/ows/conjunctions.htm

  • interjection

is a word set apart from the rest of the sentence with an exclamation point that shows great emotion and/or excitement: aha, bravo, drats, eek, fiddlesticks, gee whiz, ha ha, oh dear, uh oh, wow, yippee.

Editors frown on using a lot of interjections. Keep the numbers down.

List of Interjections: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/wordlist/interjections.shtml

Another list of interjections: http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/list-of-interjections.html

WRITING EXERCISE 1:

What part of speech begin most of your sentences?

Many of us begin most of our sentences the same way. Sometimes we do it for effect. Other times, we may be focusing on the plot and not in the sentence structure. Here is an exercise to help you practice beginning sentences that are related in paragraph format.

Print this blog post.

Now that you know what the parts of speech are, copy and print page 3 of your manuscript, page 30 or 100 of the same or a different manuscript. After you do the WRITING EXERCISE 2 today, place a tally mark in the column for the part of speech that begins your sentences. I included adjectives and articles separately, because I believe many times we start too many sentences with articles.

Parts of Speech

Writing Samplespart of speech for beginning  of each  sentence. Page 3 novelor all pages of  picture book Page 30 or 100or all pages of picture book 20 Random Words Writing exercise
Noun
Pronoun
Adjective
Articles  (a,an,the)
Verb
Adverb
Preposition
Conjunction
Interjection

WRITING EXERCISE 2:

Use the 20 words below in a story. Write a new story, use characters from a work in progress, or use a character from your favorite book. 16 words that can be used as nouns,  8 words that can be used as verbs. 6 words that can be used as adjectives.  Several can be used as both nouns and verbs; others can be used as both nouns and adjectives.

Set the timer for 20 minutes. Write your story using as many of these 20 words as possible..

  1. architect
  2. blemish
  3. cancel
  4. code
  5. degree
  6. disbelief
  7. escape
  8. game
  9. humor
  10. Juice
  11. listless
  12. mask
  13. mechanic
  14. mile
  15. pet
  16. power
  17. ravishing
  18. respond
  19. uniform
  20. yearn

At the end of 20 minutes. Read what you have written. Were you able to use most of the words. Tally the number of the part of speech that begins each sentence in the chart you printed out.

I’ll bet the beginning of your sentences varied more because you were more aware it. If not, it’s a great way to incorporate a list of random words in a story. I hope you will realize that using a random set of words can bring on a creative flow of juices, you never thought you had.

If you vary the beginnings of your sentences, you insight interest and keep boredom from putting your readers to sleep.

Please share what you wrote in the WRITING EXERCISE 2 using 20 random words. I’ll bet that your tally marks show that you already do a good job of varying the beginning of sentences to keep your readers awake and engaged. Awesome!

Celebrate you.
Write. Write. Write.
Never Give Up

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

**********

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13 Responses

  1. Thanks for this crash course in grammar plus writing exercises! Impressed once again!

    Like

    • Dear Linda Phillips,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you liked the grammar lesson and the writing exercises.

      Enjoy your writing.

      Like

  2. Joan,
    It is good to vary sentences, but I thought most children’s book authors were encouraged to begin sentences with the subject. Comments?

    Like

    • Dear Linda Andersen,
      Thanks for writing. Variety in picture books would probably be limited by the age group of the readers. In a picture book, the point is you probably don’t want to start them all with nouns, you would want a few pronouns, and a few starting with verbs, a few articles. If variety doesn’t come with the parts of speech, you can vary the number of words in a sentence.
      (verb, verb, article, pronoun, noun, article)

      “Run,” said Jane. “Win the race.”
      The dog ran as fast as he could. He passed the finish line.
      Jane hollered, “Good job, Fido.”
      A judge put a ribbon around the little dog’s neck.

      Jane said, “Run. Win the race.”
      Fido ran as fast as he could.
      Jane saw Fido pass the finish line.
      Jane hollered, “Good job, Fido.”
      Jane put a ribbon around Fido’s neck.
      (noun, noun, noun, noun, noun)

      Again, this all depends upon the reader’s capabilities. If it’s a parent reading it to a child, or the child reading it as a first reader.

      You probably vary the beginning of your sentences.

      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

      • Joan,
        I see what you mean. Variety does spice things up. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

        Like

        • Dear Linda,
          Thanks for writing. Always follow your gut feelings. They usually steer you in the right direction.

          Never Give Up
          Joan Y. Edwards

          Like

  3. When I did this exercise, in the three different passages, I didn’t start any sentences with an adjective. I started most of my sentences with a pronoun.

    Now that I know that, I can seek to do more with varying the part of speech that begins my sentences.

    Here’s what I wrote using the twenty words in this blog post in 20 minutes:

    Danny, the architect, looked closely at his car in utter disbelief. It was listless, at best, because of the extent of the blemishes on its side. Hanging his head in disbelief, he decided to phone the tow truck service to see if they could help him escape from this ditch. The truck could take him to his mechanic. His date with ravishing Julie, the model, would have to be cancelled for this evening. His cell phone was no where to be found and its battery was dead. It had no power.. He had no way to let her know and for her to respond.

    Maybe he should get a St. Bernard dog for a pet and take a sled from place to place. It might get him there safer. The dog might not need a code like his car to start and stop it. He had no juice now. His own personal battery was exhausted. He would miss the game and the date.

    He doubted if he could walk a mile, but he’d have to try. Luckily, he wore hard hat along with the construction crew uniform for checking out new building structures. He couldn’t mask his disappointment. This was not one of his favorite days. It was 30 degrees and getting colder by the moment. Snowflakes fell by the dozens. A blizzard and he was far from home. With great joy, he took the quilt, a can of beans with a pull-out lid, and a bottle of water from his trunk.

    From a distance, he saw a truck from Quarry Construction Company. He raised his hands to stop him.
    The driver stopped the truck and opened the cabin door.
    “Come on in out of the cold, Danny.”

    Thanks for reading my blog and comments.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Like

  4. Always inspiring! Always trying to get us to be better in our craft. Thanks again for a great blog!

    Like

    • Dear Sandra,
      Thanks for writing. I appreciate your compliment. I do want to help all of us to improve our writing. Step by step we will get better and better.

      Celebrate you.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  5. […] Continue at Joan’s blog. […]

    Like

    • Dear Dr. Bob,
      Thanks for placing a link in your Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 5. You are very kind to do that.
      I appreciate you and your friendship.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  6. Joan, I am directing people here in the next issue of my Bobbing Around
    http://wp.me/p3Xihq-2w
    🙂
    Bob

    Like

    • Dear Dr. Bob,
      Thank you for writing and letting me know that you placed a link in your Bobbing Around newsletter. What a nice thing to do! I appreciate you and your friendship.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

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