Words are like musical notes. They have to form together properly to make a pleasing sound. That’s why they say the ear is the best writer. Sentences have to have a certain rhythm otherwise they sound choppy and discordant. As a piano player, I draw on my musical skills to understand when writing sounds right and when it doesn’t.
Sentences have to flow like music. The number of syllables in the word also makes a difference when determining which one to use. Too many long sentences won’t work and the same is true of too many short sentences. In music, staccato means a note of short duration. Lunga means long and sostenuto means sustained or lengthened. Forte means loud, adagio slow, pianissimo, soft. Andante means moderate, crescendo means growing progressively louder. When a pianist is unskilled, all the notes may be played exactly the same, without emphasis or feeling. He or she hasn’t put his soul into the music. When a virtuoso pianist hits the keys, we can immediately tell the difference. Some parts of the melody are played soft, others strong. It stirs us emotionally. We hear not just the notes, but the emotion behind it. The same is true of writing. The key is variety. And the ultimate key is to know when to differentiate between all the different options and make the words sing—with emotion, intensity and fire. It can make our writing not only readable, but memorable.
There are 20 Patterns for sentence structure. Here are the first 10:* (I’ve copied these and pasted them next to my computer)
1. Compound sentence: semicolon, no conjunction. Example: Hard work is only one side of the equation; talent is the other. 2. Compound sentence with elliptical construction. Example: A red light means stop; a green light, go. 3. Compound sentence with explanatory statement. Example: Remember what the old saying advises: Be careful what you wish for because you may actually get it. 4. A series without a conjunction. Example: The United States has a government of the people, by the people, for the people. 5. A series with a variation. Example: Peering down from the hill, Merlin could see the castle swathed in gloom and fear and death. 6. A series of balanced pairs. Example: Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere were all famous lovers in literature. 7. An introductory series of appositives. Example: Vanity, greed, corruption—which serves as the novel’s source of conflict? 8. An internal series of appositives or modifiers. Example: My favorite red wines—Zinfandel, Cabernet, Pinot Noir—blend well in making California rose wines. 9. A variation: a single appositive or a pair. Example: A sudden explosion—artillery fire—signaled the beginning of a barrage. 10. Dependent clauses in a pair or in a series. Example: When he smelled the odor of pine, when he heard the chatter of jays, when he saw the startled doe, the hunter knew he had reached the center of the forest.
What writers use words that flow the best, ones that are the most pleasing to the ear? What writers make you say ‘gee, I wish I’d written that,’ or ‘gee, that sounds great!’ My favorite wordsmiths are Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. They can create an atmosphere like no other and string sentences together with truly imaginative words that have life and rhythm. Who are your favorite wordsmiths and what special tricks do they use that make you love their writing?•
*From “The Art of Styling Sentences: 20 Patterns for Success” by Waddell, Esch and Walker Next week: The Rhythm of the Word, Part 2
FIVE STARS: "Excellent writing! Enjoyable hero and heroine! Great romance! Fast pace! I read it straight through! Author thorough in research! I lived the experience!"--A reader on Amazon.com
FIVE STARS: "Erica Kingsley, a twenty-nine year old spoiled woman had to be taught a lesson and her CEO father planned with the help of her ex-lover to do just that! The Holiday Channel needed a huge cash flow shot in the arm or it was at the mercy of his enemy. Erica hosted "The Lap of Luxury Show" and her ex hosted "The Wildman Show." Both shows could not survive and he got the idea of filming Erica as she tried to survive in the Belize jungle while they searched for Montezuma's Treasure!
Trey Zacco was told not to give the pampered Erica any help and he rode her hard! His crew was being picked off one by one and all eyes were on Erica as the culprit, but would she go as far as murder to get back to Miami?
Does Ms. Chambers hold her readers captive with a book that you just can't put down and gives her opinion on where the king's daughter buried his gold! From the descriptions of the jungle, the visions fairly leaped off the pages and I can't wait to read her next!"--A Reader on Goodreads.com
FIVE STARS: "A Wild Sultry Ride! Wonderful, action-packed story! I was completely lost in the author's words. Ms. Chambers created quite a world for us to lose ourself in. The chemistry between Trey and Erica is fantastic. With curves, twist, romance and action. Take the chance, The Montezuma Secret is well worth your time."--A reader on Amazon.com
The Secret Sentinel
Available from The Wild Rose Press
Reviews for The Secret Sentinel
FIVE STARS AND A TOP PICK FROM NIGHT OWL REVIEWS--" The Secret Sentinel is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it. Look out Nora Roberts...there's a new author on the horizon."
FOUR STARS FROM THE ROMANCE STUDIO--"The constant action and adventure made this a very enjoyable read. If you loved the movie 'Romancing the Stone' this book will be a treat for you."
RT Reviews--"Deception is the watchword in Chambers' thriller. The action is fast moving and the characters intriguing."
NIGHTS AND WEEKEND REVIEWS--"A wild mixture of National Treasure and Indiana Jones."
FIVE STARS--GOODREADS--"Savannah Rutledge Unlocks Pandora's Box When She Takes Her Father's Secret Map and Loans It To Her Boss For Display For A Southwest Fest And To Save Her Job, But Instead of Crowing With Delight She Was Running For Her Life With Murder Charges, Her Disabled Father Murdered, And A Zorro Stranger Kidnapping Her! A One Hundred Year Old Secret Has Been Released And It Refuses To Get Back In The Box!"
Time of The Eleven
Now Available on Amazon!
The Time of the Eleven
A daring prison escape in Mexico. An explosion in the Hague. Tourists disappearing in Scotland and the Sahara. Reporters murdered or reported missing. Seemingly unrelated incidents. Or parts of an ingenious terrorist plot? After her fiance mysteriously disappears, Kiley Prescott has a chance encounter with a seductive stranger in Mexico. But who is this man? FBI agent Peter Rushing is sure her new lover, handsome Armand Rachet, is really the notorious international terrorist, Gabriel Roca, suspected in a series of devastating bombings overseas. After Kiley learns Rushing was fired from the FBI, she fears he is hiding something even more sinister. The chase for the truth takes her cross country, from Washington to Chicago, Las Vegas, and finally San Diego, where Kiley learns the deadliest secret of all--everything is timed to happen at eleven. Eleven men. The eleventh hourof the eleventh day of November, 2011. It is "The Time of the Eleven."