Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Common Problems (Part 34 of 50)

Put the most important part of the sentence at the end. Think of the end of a sentence (and just as true as the last sentence in a paragraph) as your final, most emphatic statement. This is one of the principles I didn't grasp until about 15 years after I began to publish.

As the author, you decide which words you want to emphasize.

I wrote these words in a first draft of my book, Unleash the Writer Within: I am a passionate person; I can be a passionate writer if I choose. When I read the sentence again, I decided that the strongest part of the sentence should be I can be a passionate writer. It's the being and not the choosing that I wanted to emphasize, so I revised it to read: I am a passionate person; if I choose, I can be a passionate writer.[1]

Here are two examples from my students.

* Richard rattled the bushes with a stick he broke loose from a tree on the way in. (Better: With a stick he had broken loose from a tree. . . he rattled the bushes. Bushes is stronger than the preposition in.)

* He heaved a sigh of relief, although drenched in fearful sweat. (Reverse the clauses.)

Put the emphatic part of the sentence at the end. 
Those words make the most impact on readers. 
[1] Unleash the Writer Within by Cecil Murphey (Wheaton, IL: 2012).

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A note from Twila:

Cec is thinking about doing a one-day seminar on the inner writer, based on his book Unleash the Writer Within. If you had the opportunity to attend a seminar on the inner writer, what would you want Cec to address? Email me with your suggestions.


  1. Hi, Cec. I had the pleasure of meeting you at the East Texas Christian Writer's Conference in Marshall in the Fall. I've been haunting your website ever since. Finally purchased Unleashing the Writer Within and finished it quickly. So impacted, I can't tell you. I kept seeing the thousands of times that I deleted phrases because I was afraid people would think it was me - and it was/is me. So much to digest. I'll be reading it many times. Thanks so much.

  2. How fun to see this as I just taught this concept a few days ago to a writer friend. I told her, "When I edit I have Cecil Murphy's voice in my head." And I'm so grateful. Thanks for all you have taught to so many. (Notice I did not use exclamation points even though my heart wanted to.)


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