I was going to write you a whole whiny post on how I can't sleep, and how writers and sleep are enemies, but my brain decided otherwise. I keep discovering new things every day, it seems, and this particular one helped me today in writing killer sentences. So of course I had to share it with you. Remember the post on having every sentence turn? Well, it's even deeper than that. Turns out, a sentence can turn three ways, and it's up to you which way you want to turn it, and according to the way you turn it, you can either rope your reader into suspense or have them relax. This is scary stuff. Scary powerful, I mean. It teaches you how to manipulate your reader, which of course is what we writers do. But I had no idea about this! And now that I know, I can't write the way I used to anymore. I see it everywhere.
The culprit is Robert McKee's new book Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen. If you haven't read it, stop reading this post and go get it. Done? Okay. Carrying on.
Every sentence has a core idea expressed in one core word. For example: "They walked into a forest as dark as a grave." The core idea here is that the forest was as dark as a grave, and that means it was scary. The core word is "grave." Now, the three ways a sentence can turn are:
- When the core word starts a sentence.
- When the core word ends a sentence.
- When the core word is in the middle.