Brake Please!!!

I keep reminding myself to write shorter sentences. It is fairly easier to write long-winded sentences. Because they follow your thought process. Thoughts come in your mind as you write.

Braking the sentences sometimes can lead to an idea getting lost. But shorter sentences have more impact.

There are ways to cut short a sentence. The most talked about is where you use less or no adjectives without taking away from the text. Rather making the text more effective.

Mark Twain – “Substitute “damn” every time you want to use the word “very.” Twain’s thought was that your editor would delete the “damn,” and leave the writing as it should be. The short version: eliminate using the word “very.”

For example: He moved the big boulder with the sheer force of his two muscular hands all the while grunting, screaming, sighing and panting heavily like a warrior in a battlefield.

When you use scissors for this sentence, you will get: He moved the boulder(a boulder is big anyways) with his hands (he could move the boulder. Proof of his strength. Two hands – redundant) while grunting and panting heavily like a warrior in a battlefield.

From 29 words this sentence is now 18 words and some of you might be able to shorten it even more.

When Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write something in six words, he wrote: For Sale: baby shoes, never used.

In his autobiographical work,’The story of my experiments with Truth’,Mohandas K. Gandhi writes short sentences and that was his writing style.

“There are some things known only to oneself and one’s maker. These are clearly incommunicable. The experiments I am about to relate are not such. But they are spiritual or rather moral; for the essence of religion is morality.” – Mahatma Gandhi in ‘The story of my experiments with Truth’

All these sentences are succinct. But they contain a world of meaning.

Informally, in blogs or even in novels, sometimes verb-less sentences are used. The browser might put a squiggly red line which says that it is fragment but these type of short sentences also convey a lot-effectively.

In case you haven’t noticed. I have tried my best to use short sentences in this post.

fall from grace

What is it with celebrities, people in position of power and the not so famous but extremely rich people? They reach the height of their success in their career. Position, power,clout and whatever other perks that come with money somehow becomes difficult for the human brain to handle and crash! So many of them come tumbling down. Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan, Bernie Maddof, O.J. Simpson, Mark Sanford, Charlie Sheen and countless others who have everything but make mistakes that bring them down. Do some human beings have a problem handling success? Is it that they feel untouchable that they resort to fraud,shoplifting, drugs, womanizing etc?

Dr. Jason Plaks, a social psychologist at the University of Toronto and Kristin Stecher, a research scientist at the University of Washington, found that those who thought of their capabilities as fixed were more likely to become anxious and disoriented when faced with dramatic success, causing their subsequent performance to plummet, compared to those who thought of their abilities as changeable.
Ironically, the people in the limelight are the ones who think they will not get caught which is again a misjudgment on their part. Handling of success is also an art that need to be learned while you are climbing up the success ladder.

Drenched in your own ideas?

The ideas are brewing in your head by the dozen?
One pops up in your head for a few minutes and then some other idea takes over?
The left-overs of the first one and the freshly cooked mixture of the next results in incoherence?

Welcome to normalcy! You are not alone. Happens to almost everybody. This is the human mind. We have to train it to think about one thing at a time otherwise it wanders in all directions. It takes a lot to be a focused person.

I can’t stress the importance of jotting down whatever comes to your mind. A phrase or a word can evolve into a complete story. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down. If you can’t move beyond that one phrase right away, trust me.. you will someday. Don’t pile ideas into your head but file them away.

‘Misery’ in classic literature

“Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows”

William Shakespeare

“Given the amount of unjust suffering and unhappiness in the world, I am deeply grateful for, sometimes even perplexed by, how much misery I have been spared.”

Dennis Prager

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.”

Alexandre Dumas

Sentences that use the emotion of ‘Pity’

“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.”

Helen Keller quotes (American Author and Educator who was blind and deaf. 1880-1968)

“Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won’t suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when the person looks back-she will hear her heart”

Paulo Coelho quotes (Mystical author, one of Brazil’s most successful novelist)

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”

John W. Gardner quotes (American Writer and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 1912-2002)

paraprosdokian sentences – sentences that make you go back and reread

A PARAPROSDOKIAN SENTENCE ends with an unexpected twist that forces the reader to reexamine or reinterpret the phrase preceding it.

“You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”

—Winston Churchill

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

—Groucho Marx

The beginning, the end and everything in the middle – of a sentence

I am always fascinated by how a book reads, how its chapters are so well-defined and, how each paragraph contributes so heavily to the story. But what intrigues me most is a SENTENCE. A well used sentence can evoke anger, disgust, pity, love, hatred and a number of other emotions.

A sentence rightly placed in a story is like a heavily loaded cannon. It will do the intended work and will do it well.

A first sentence that is packed with meaning is a gem. Here are examples of a few gems that I found.

A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,….”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone J.K. Rowling

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

If you have any first sentences that rendered you gasping for literary breath….. do share with me.