Sentence Soup

In talking to the young people about writing sentences that flow well together, I told them that writing a story was like making a good soup.

First I asked, what makes up a good soup?  I got all sorts of answers, from chicken, to veggies, to noodles and crackers.  So we decided that a good soup has a lot of good ingredients, but not too many of any one ingredient.

I then asked them if any of them like pepper on their soup.  Many hands went up.  Then, I asked, “But what if I came over and dumped the whole pepper shaker into your soup.  Would you like that?”  No one did.

So we agreed, that having too much of any one ingredient or spice can spoil the soup.  The same goes with writing. Here are the ingredients that I mentioned to them:

Sentence length: Mix up long and short sentences to make things more interesting.
Describing words: Add some adjectives and adverbs, but be careful not to add too many. (It’s like too much pepper)
Types of sentence beginnings: Sometimes leading with subject and verb, and other times leading with a clause.
Using strong, concrete verbs:  Think of different ways to say common words such as “walk” and “talk” to paint a more exact picture.
Have perfect punctuation: Use it when you need it, but don’t overdo it, such as using more than one “!”

I think the soup analogy really  helped the students grasp what I was saying, and I think it is a concept that any writer should think about.

Please join me next week for another installment, and on Thursday for a review of the first three books of the 13th Reality series by James Dashner.

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