Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Write the Perfect Sentence

The perfect sentence doesn't have to be grammatically correct. It doesn't have to have a certain number of words and a certain number of beats. The perfect sentence is an entity in and of itself while belonging to a conglomeration of other sentences, forming paragraphs, scenes, and stories.

Or it can stand alone.

The perfect sentence is a snug fit in the place where it belongs--as a whole, as a half, as a fragment.

Or it can be a jagged shard that draws attention to itself.

The perfect sentence needs to convey meaning, although not always through the words alone. It can be a string of sentences mashed together in a rambling muddle that carries the characters and the reader on a rocking and roiling ride of confusion.

Or it can flash and vanish.

The perfect sentence can shock, it can amuse, it can announce the end of an age. It can do anything you want it to do, except perhaps open that jar of pickles.

To write the perfect sentence, don't be afraid to write an imperfect sentence.

As some of you already know via Facebook, I finished NaNo. That's 50k words written for the first draft. I still have a long way to go with my YA scifi, but I'm having an awful lot of fun.

A huge thank you to S. L. Hennessy for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please visit her blog and say hi from me.

I also won a copy of Secrets of the Knight by Nina Jade Singer from Romance Reader. Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Announcement: On Saturday I will be at Laura Barnes' blog where she will be interviewing me. I'd love to see you over there.


  1. Hum, I need more details. LOL Nice post.

  2. "To write the perfect sentence, don't be afraid to write an imperfect sentence."


  3. I can write an imperfect sentence now!

  4. Congratulations completing Nanowrimo. A fantastic achievement!

    I run into imperfect sentences all the time. Mine in particular. ;)

  5. I love the magnitude of license you give for crafting the perfect sentence.

    Luv it!

  6. Congratulations for finishing Nano!! Yay!! Well done you! Take care

  7. but I must add that writers shouldn't try too much with all the sentences in their book. I've recently read a book, of one of our blogging friends, who tried hard making each sentence perfect, witty and flawless, which actually made the whole novel a bit difficult to read since it lost the very important natural flow. So, polishing is good, but too much polish can be poisonous :) and you might lose the natural beauty under the polished shine.

  8. Great insightful post Lynda. Congrats for your NaNo effort.

  9. Nice. :)

    And big congrats on finishing your 50k for NaNo!

  10. Well, I guess I'm famous for that then!

    Look forward to your interview, and congrats on NaNo- Gee-Wow!

  11. Congratulations on finishing NaNoWriMo! :)

    I love all the examples of sentences--for it does depend on how they're used that make them worthwhile. Too bad about the jar-opening, though; that could come in handy. :P

  12. The best sentences stir emotion. Simple in theory, difficult in practice.

  13. Oh dear, this gets me nervous, but I love it!

  14. A sentence can be a powerful thing, but it can be really difficult to write! Great post.:)

  15. Congratulations on having completed your NaNo goal. Very well done, Lyn. And I like that sentence about not fearing imperfection.

    Quite perfect.

  16. Brilliant post :)

  17. such a great point about the Imperfect sentence. Because the best part about the "perfect sentence" is it can be revised... :D <3

  18. So many congratulations in order! I fell short of my own NaNo by just 1800 words, so I'm super jealous. I loooove this post. It isn't often that we stop to think about the micro-level of our sentences; we're so caught up in plot and structure and word count and theme. But writing one beautiful (or interesting) sentence after another would be a worthy goal for any novel. Thanks for the reminder.

  19. Excellent advice.
    Great job on NaNo. Keep up the pace.


  20. Thanks for the comments and congratulations. I really appreciate it.

    Dezzy, fantastic point about not over-working a novel.

    Michael, it all depends on the definition ;)

    Golden, think how awesome it would be to open jars with words. Oh wait, we can! The word is 'Please'. ;)

    Leigh, revision is a writer's best friend.

    Gail, oh wow, only 1800 words??? In my mind you've still won NaNo, so Congrats! to you too.

    Mary, yep, that's the plan :)

  21. Congrats on finishing NaNo. Woot! I knew you'd do it.

    Sentences are marvelous things. Aren't they?

  22. Congrats on your NaNo win!! Love your post.

  23. I have a feeling I write a lot of imperfect sentences.

  24. Now that title reminds me of my early days of school. The perfect sentence starting with a capital letter etc. LOL! Yes some sentences are real attention grabbers, some are so delicious and meliflous. Best of all if it's the first line of your novel to draw the reader in.
    Congrats on the word count, too.

  25. Congrats on completing NaNo.

    "To write the perfect sentence, don't be afraid to write an imperfect sentence."

    Love that sentence :)

  26. Congrats on finishing NaNo!!!

    "The perfect sentence can shock, it can amuse, it can announce the end of an age. It can do anything you want it to do, except perhaps open that jar of pickles.

    To write the perfect sentence, don't be afraid to write an imperfect sentence."

    I love this part . . . can I quote your last sentence on my blog?

  27. If I haven't said--BIG congrats for finishing NaNo!!! And this is a great run-down of perfect sentences. I like your analogies, sentences being jagged, flashy, shocking, amusing, etc.

    Haha--but not open the jar of pickles. Love it. How did you know I always have trouble with those really big jars of pickles! (I yell for my hubby when I need to open those.)

  28. Madeleine, great point about the first line of the novel :)

    Tyrean, yes, absolutely. You may need to fix your profile so I can find your blog.

    Carol, hehe, those things are impossible to open.

    To everyone: Thank you again for all the congrats for NaNo. It was truly brilliant. Now the real hard work begins.

  29. "To write the perfect sentence, don't be afraid to write an imperfect sentence." ~ love this.

  30. Congrats on finishing Nano! HUGE accomplishment.
    I wrote a few imperfect sentences during nano. :)

  31. Greetings, Lynda!

    Your name was mentioned on Empty Nesters blog and I took her suggestion and decided to stop by!

    Pleasure to make your aquaintance!

    I'm a relatively new blogger-finding it fun and interesting jumping from blog to blog!

    I myself am a poet- I enjoy reading poety and various writings!

    When I write I make every attempt to correct errors-via proof reading/ re-vising, spelling, etc.after doing spell check etc. I assume its a relatively correct sentence. I never really ask myself- is it perfect?

    Hope you will stop by and read my poems!

    My congrats also on your awards!

  32. Michelle, Thanks :)

    Kelly, NaNo is meant to be imperfect. ;)

    Hi and welcome, Betty. It's wonderful meeting a new and enthusiastic blogger. I'll definitely pop on by. :)


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