BSV Forum - Writing - General Tips


Feb 11 2007 02:54 am   #1slaymesoftly

This is taken verbatim from the posting at Riters _R_Us, so just ignore anything that seems to be referring to something you've never heard of. It followed a posting about the parts of speech which I will have to find and put up here later. 

from RRU:
I can't resist posting this shining example of over-informing the reader that an eagle-eyed member sent me. Hopefully it isn't anyone you know....

Room full of people, Anya is speaking loudly "Lets go have sex now," said Xander's wife who was very outspoken about her sexuality.   That's showing and telling! LOL

Now to today's post:

Okay, now that everyone has remembered what the parts of speech are, lets talk about putting them together properly to form interesting and understandable sentences using properly placed and punctuated clauses.

Clauses - You can improve your writing by using clauses to add details, to combine sentences, to show relationships, and to vary sentence structure. They add variety and interest to a story.

Buffy hit Spike. Spike hit Buffy back. They began to fight.     or

Buffy hit Spike; the vampire hit her back and they began to fight in earnest.

Disregarding my unimaginative scene there, which reads more fluidly? Actually, an action scene might benefit from shorter sentences with more punch to them (intentionally bad pun); a better example might have been:

Buffy kissed Spike. Spike kissed her back. They began to make love.

Buffy kissed Spike; he kissed her back and they began making love on the cool grass of the cemetery.

Still unimaginative, but it flows a little better than the three short sentences and gives more of a sense of progression in the action.

A clause is usually defined as a group of words that contains a subject and a verb and is used as a part of a sentence. It may be an independent clause, meaning that it expresses a complete thought and could stand on its own as a sentence; or, it may be a dependent (subordinate) clause, which is one that has a subject and verb but does not form a complete thought and therefore cannot stand on its own.

Spike and Buffy liked the movie (independent clause) because it was funny. (subordinate clause) Both parts of the sentence have a subject and a verb, but only the first one forms a complete thought.

An independent clause is also called the main clause of the sentence, and contains the important information. A sentence may have more than one independent clause joined by a coordinating conjunction or a semi-colon.

Spike tossed Buffy the sword, and she used it to chop the demon into little bitty pieces.
Spike tossed Buffy the sword; she used it to chop the demon into little bitty pieces.

The semi-colon is only used where there is a close relationship between the two clauses. If there is not a close relationship, it is better to use a comma and the appropriate coordinating conjunction. 

Spike wanted to go to the Bronze, but Buffy wanted to go home.

If there's no relationship at all, make it two separate sentences.

Spike wanted to go to the Bronze. Xandeer and Anya bought a car.

Clauses can be used as parts of speech - usually as adjectives or adverbs.

An adjective clause that does not add information important to the meaning of the sentence is a nonessential clause and is set off by commas.

Buffy Summers, who is not a natural blonde, is the resident slayer for the Hellmouth.

When the adjective clause provides information that is important to the meaning of the sentence, it is an essential clause and is not set off by commas.

Sunnydale has a resident slayer whose name is Buffy Summers.

Note: I know we've covered this fairly recently, but just in case: adjective clauses that provide information that is non-essential usually begin with "which" (Or, "who", if it is a person); adjective clauses that provide important or identifying information begin with "that"(unless it is a person) and do not require a comma.

Examples: The demon, which was wearing really ugly clothes, took a step closer. (non-essential info)

The demon that had threatened the girls took a step closer.  (identifying information)

Adverb clauses  - when an adverb clause appears at the beginning of a sentence, it is set off by a comma.

When Buffy fights other vampires, Spike often just watches and admires.

When an adverb clause comes at the end of a sentence, it does not require a comma.

Buffy hurt her leg when she jumped off the roof of the house.

Okay - eyes are glazing over again, I can see. The purpose of all this information you probably didn't really want to have is to give betas and writers some common language to use when changes (and the reasons for them) are being discussed.

This is pretty basic stuff, right out of the eighth grade gammar book. Any comments from our English teachers are more than welcome.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.