“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”― Ernest Hemingway
Average writers write average sentences. You, I’m guessing, don’t want to be average.
You want to be great. You believe you can be phenomenal, which means you need to write damn good sentences … without even thinking about it … day in and day out.
Do that and you’ll become unstoppable.
Everything you write … every blog post, every short story, status update, tweet… is formed by a bunch of sentences. If you can write a brilliant sentence, you can write a brilliant short story, even a novel.
Want to learn how? Read on…
Sentences are the engines of creativity, the building blocks of communication.
“Baby shoes: for sale, never worn.”
That’s Ernest Hemingway, or maybe not, but this little six-word story is brilliant example of what a few words can do in terms of images, emotions, and meaning.
Your sentences can be as short or as long as you want them to be, as long as they say the right things. Our imaginations will fill in the blanks.
So, when you are trying to get people to react to your writing, whether it’s in order to subscribe to your blog, or donate to your cause … you need to write the best damn sentences that you are capable of.
Here’s how it’s done.
1. Insert facts
You insert facts by thinking about who, what, when, where, and why. Be specific and concrete, but also be aware of how you say it, because that matters, too.
Let’s examine Hemingway’s short story: Baby shoes: for sale.
This is a rather lukewarm statement.
But if you were to write, Baby shoes: for sale, never worn, simply adding this fact about the shoes heightens the emotional appeal of the story.
2. Create images
The root of “imagination” is “image.”
Don’t insult your readers by spoon feeding them. They can imagine a lot of things on their own. They spend a lot of time doing that anyway.
Use active verbs and concrete nouns and you will naturally create images.
Make use of the senses. Help them paint a clear and vivid picture in their minds, but don’t overdo it.
Moderation is a virtue.
3. Evoke emotion
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ― Banksy
A brilliant sentence has to make you feel. Something. Anything. Anger, rage, pride, make you feel like you can conquer the world, or make you want to burn the whole thing down. It has to make you cry and laugh and smile…
Lukewarm is no good.
When writing any sentence, feel it first. Feel what your readers would feel when reading it. What do you want to make them feel? How can you best use words to make them feel that?
5. Practice makes perfect
Writing great sentences takes work. It takes time to find your own rhythm and pace, and understand how to use them both to your advantage.
You have to keep doing it, and you will get better.
Write, write, write… this is the most important rule of writing. But now that you know that it all comes down to each individual sentence, you can pay closer attention.
After all, you can only write one word at a time.
Your turn …
Maybe not every single one of your sentences will be great, but the more you pay attention to the basic principles and practice, the closer you are going to get with each draft.
Don’t give up. Keep punching those damn keys.