Last week, we discussed ending a paragraph with either an enticing sentence, a question, or a clever quip. Before that, we looked at why putting the most vivid word at the end of a sentence helps pull the reader to the next one.
I stand by both posts, but as I said in this one, breaking rhythm is important. You can’t – or shouldn’t – always have the last word of a sentence or the last sentence of a paragraph as the most vivid. Your writing will lose that alluring flow every good author strives to achieve.
To break your rhythm, consider repositioning your most striking imagery from the end of your paragraph to the beginning. Hit those readers hard from the start!
This is something I struggle with in my writing and I’m not quite sure why. I’m adventurous and considered a somewhat spontaneous person in real life, but it seems I like to ease people (and myself) into stories. Psychologists may have a better reasoning, but that want to ease into a story must somehow transfer over into how I prefer easing readers into a paragraph.
It was difficult finding examples in the prologue of The Lost City of Al-Kimiya (which will be published late 2019!), but I managed to find a good enough one.
Tragic events had plagued the Noire’s, but James held no illusions of there being an actual curse on the family. Zenetra was the heart of the nation. She had been on the cover of newspapers and magazines since birth. The Hive had a field day with the Noire sisters after the murder of their mother, and then again when the elder sister went missing eight years later. Zenetra was the sole heir of a dynasty of hard work and tragic ends.Prologue, The Lost City of Al-Kimiya
“Tragic” and the extension “events” helps establish Zenetra Noire’s family reputation right from the start. It’s the first word characters (and now readers) associate with the main character’s family and ironically – the last. I even did that subconsciously by starting the sentence with the image of tragedy and ending it likewise, only now to realize it.
Kudos to me, I guess.
Writing these weekly editing tips and tricks has really helped me look at my own writing objectively. Perhaps that’s the teacher in me coming out. Helping others learn helps me remember. Case in point: the below paragraph was edited for the sole purpose of being used in this post as an example. It originally started out as, “The bells tolled…”
Bells tolled the arrival of the city tram, a free but crammed public transportation vessel. It was the slowest vehicle Noire Transport had ever created and wasn’t convenient enough to ride except when travelling long distances. Noire Mansion was too far to walk, so James elbowed his way onto the back of the public vehicle and hung half in and half out as it crept through the city.
Prologue, The Lost City of Al-Kimiya
How does it sound now? Crazy how a simple change can make a sentence more striking, eh?