Creative Writing: 10 Ways to Write Better Sentences
Creative writing is a craft that takes time and effort to master. Whether you are a novelist, a poet, a screenwriter, or any other type of creative writer, your sentences are the building blocks of your work. They need to be both clear and engaging to hold your reader’s attention.
In this article, we will present you with ten different ways to write better sentences as a creative writer! So let’s begin.
1 Avoid Passive Voice
Passive voice is a common pitfall for many writers, and avoiding it is essential for creating engaging and impactful sentences.
In passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon, rather than performing the action itself. This can create a sense of distance between the reader and the action, making the writing feel flat or uninspired.
For example, consider the difference between these two sentences:
Passive voice: The cake was eaten by Tom.
Active voice: Tom ate the cake.
The active voice sentence places the subject (Tom) at the center of the action, creating a sense of immediacy and urgency. Your writing will feel stronger if you focus on the person doing the action.
Of course, there may be some rare situations when you want to use passive voice purposefully, to create a certain effect. For example, passive voice can be used to emphasize the action or object being acted upon, rather than the person performing the action. This can be useful when the object is more important than the person performing the action.
Passive voice: The painting was stolen from the museum.
Active voice: Someone stole the painting from the museum.
In this example, the passive voice emphasizes the painting as the object of the action, rather than the person who stole it.
How to identify passive voice
To identify passive voice, look for the use of “to be” verbs (such as “was,” “is,” or “were”) followed by a past participle verb (such as “eaten,” “stolen,” or “written”). To correct passive voice, simply switch the object and subject of the sentence or rephrase the sentence entirely to use active voice.
Passive voice: The report was written by Jane.
Active voice: Jane wrote the report.
By avoiding passive voice and focusing on active voice, you can create more dynamic, engaging, and memorable sentences that draw readers in and keep them engaged with your writing.
2 Cut Unnecessary Similes in Creative Writing
Similes are a great way to add descriptive language and make your writing more vivid and engaging. However, using too many or unnecessary similes can be distracting for readers. It can even come across as clichéd or overdone.
Here’s an example of unnecessary use:
“The sun rose over the mountains like a giant glowing orb.”
In this sentence, the simile does not add any additional information or create a new perspective on the sunrise. The reader already knows what the sun looks like and doesn’t need the added comparison to a giant glowing orb.
Instead, the writer could simply describe the sunrise in a way that feels fresh and evocative, such as:
“The sun slowly peeked over the jagged peaks, casting a golden glow over the landscape below.”
This description captures the beauty and majesty of the sunrise without relying on a clichéd simile.
While this simile may be effective in some contexts, in others it can seem overused and unoriginal. It’s important to consider the purpose of each simile and whether it truly adds to the meaning and impact of the sentence.
To avoid overusing similes, focus on using them only when they add something important to the writing. Similes can be particularly effective when they create a connection between something abstract and concrete, or when they provide a fresh perspective on something familiar.
For example: “She stood in the rain, feeling like a drowning flower in a sea of water.”
In this simile, the writer creates a vivid image of someone feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable in a way that feels impactful.
By cutting unnecessary similes and focusing on the ones that truly add value to your writing, you can create engaging sentences that capture your reader’s attention and hold it until the very end!
3 Avoid Complex Sentences
In writing, it’s essential to strike a balance between engaging your reader with rich and varied sentences and making sure your writing is easy to understand.
One common mistake is to cram too much information into a single sentence. When a sentence has too many clauses and phrases, it can become difficult to follow. Instead, aim for shorter sentences that communicate one idea at a time. This approach can help keep your writing clear and concise.
However, do not be afraid to vary your sentence length and structure! Mixing up sentence patterns can create a dynamic rhythm and keep readers engaged. Just make sure the meaning of each sentence is clear and easy to follow.
To identify and correct complex sentences, try reading your writing aloud. If you find yourself running out of breath or stumbling over words, it may be a sign that your sentences are too long or complicated. Break them down into shorter sentences that are easier to follow. Remember, your goal is to engage your reader while keeping your writing accessible. Strive for clarity, and use sentence complexity sparingly and intentionally.
In rare situations when a complex sentence is necessary, it’s important to ensure that each clause is clear and serves a distinct purpose. Using punctuation, such as commas or semicolons, can help break up complex sentences into more manageable chunks.
Here’s an example:
Complex Sentence: While I was walking in the park, I saw a group of children playing and laughing, and I couldn’t help but smile, remembering the carefree days of my own childhood.
Simplified Sentence: I saw children playing and laughing in the park and it made me smile, remembering my own carefree days.
In the simplified version, unnecessary details and clauses are removed, making the sentence easier to read and follow.
4 Avoid Body Parts Taking Action
Another common mistake that amateur writers often make is using body parts as the subjects of sentences.
For example, instead of saying “The hand grabbed the book,” it’s better to say “I grabbed the book,” or “He grabbed the book.”
This is important because it helps to create a stronger sense of agency and personal connection between the reader and the characters or narrator in the writing.
When body parts are used to take action, it can create a sense of detachment and objectivity that can be jarring to the reader. By using people as the subjects of your sentences, you can create a more engaging and emotionally resonant narrative that draws readers in and keeps them invested in the story.
So, next time you are writing a sentence, remember to keep the focus on the characters or narrators themselves, rather than on their body parts.
5 Avoid starting actions
Starting sentences with actions is a common habit among many writers. However, it can be an easy trap to fall into. Having a character start or begin actions, reduces the immediacy of the action and rarely enhances understanding.
“Anna started to smile” is an example of a sentence that could be simplified and made more engaging by removing unnecessary words. Instead, you could simply say “Anna smiled.” Both will convey the same meaning. But, “Anna smiled” feels much stronger and more immediate.
By removing the unnecessary phrase “started to,” the sentence becomes more direct and impactful, putting the focus on the action itself rather than the build-up to it. This creates a stronger sense of immediacy and engagement, drawing the reader into the moment and making them feel more connected to Anna and the story as a whole.
When every sentence starts with an action, it can create a sense of monotony that can bore readers and make your writing feel flat. Instead, try varying the structure of your sentences to keep your writing interesting and engaging.
You could start with descriptive language, dialogue, or even a question to pique the reader’s interest and draw them into the story. By using a variety of sentence structures, create a more dynamic and compelling narrative – it will keep readers interested and invested.
6 Set the Tone with Word Choices
The words you choose to use in your creative writing can have a profound impact on the tone and mood of your piece. By carefully selecting the right words, you can create a sense of atmosphere and emotion that draws the reader into your story and helps to immerse them in your world. Whether you are aiming for a lighthearted and humorous tone, a dark and brooding atmosphere, or something in between, your word choices can help to set the tone and create the right emotional impact for your readers.
• The car crept down the narrow street.
• The car raced down the narrow street.
• The car meandered down the narrow street.
In the first sentence, the word “crept” creates a sense of caution and slowness, suggesting that the driver is navigating the street with care. In the second sentence, the word “raced” creates a sense of urgency and excitement, suggesting that the driver is in a hurry. In the third sentence, the word “meandered” creates a sense of leisure and relaxation, suggesting that the driver is taking their time and enjoying the scenery.
By choosing different words to describe the same action, you can create a wide range of impressions and moods in your writing, helping to set the tone and create a more engaging and immersive experience for your readers.
7 Remove Filtering
Filtering is a writing technique where the author uses words or phrases to “filter” the reader’s experience of the story, rather than allowing them to experience it directly. This can take the form of phrases like “I saw,” “I heard,” “I felt,” or “I thought,” which can create a sense of distance between the reader and the story, making it harder for them to become fully immersed in the world and the characters.
To create a more engaging and immersive reading experience, it is important to remove filtering from your writing as much as possible. Instead of telling the reader what the character saw or heard, show them the experience directly through sensory details and vivid descriptions.
For example, instead of saying “I heard a loud noise,” you could say “A deafening crash echoed through the room, making me jump in my seat.” By showing, rather than telling, you create a more engaging and immersive reading experience for your audience.
8 Reduce “was -ing” Construction
Using too many “was -ing” constructions in your writing can make sentences feel passive and unengaging, as it often emphasizes the action rather than the character performing the action. This can make your writing feel flat and lifeless, rather than dynamic and engaging.
To avoid this, reduce the use of “was -ing” constructions and instead opt for more active sentence structures. This can involve using stronger, more descriptive verbs, or reworking your sentences to put the emphasis on the character performing the action.
For example, consider these two sentences:
He was walking down the street.
He sauntered down the street.
In the first sentence, the “was -ing” construction makes the action feel passive and uninteresting. In the second sentence, however, the more descriptive verb “sauntered” creates a sense of purpose and intentionality, making the action feel more engaging and dynamic.
Focusing on more active sentence structures, you can create writing that feels more dynamic, engaging, and alive, helping to draw your readers into the story and keep them hooked.
9 Keep the Wording Natural
When writing, use language that feels natural and organic, rather than stiff or stilted. This means avoiding overly formal language or phrases that do not sound like something a real person would say.
One way to keep your wording natural is to read your writing aloud and listen for any phrases or sentences that feel awkward or clunky. You can also ask yourself if a real person would actually say the words you have written, or if they would use different phrasing or word choices.
For example, consider these two sentences:
“It is imperative that we arrive at the designated location by the appointed time.”
“We need to get there on time.”
The first sentence is overly formal and does not sound like something a real person would say in everyday conversation. The second sentence, on the other hand, is more natural and to the point.
10 Use of Vocabulary Level
A vocabulary level can be great for conveying characterization, values, etc. However, it is important to consider how the level of vocabulary impacts reading speed. More advanced vocabulary can slow down the reader, so it is important to use it strategically.
Different target reader groups may have different preferences for the pace of reading. Some readers enjoy savoring each word and reading at a slower pace, while others prefer a faster pace that keeps them engaged and moving through the text quickly. As a writer, you must consider the impact of your word choices on the reading speed and experience of your audience.
While it can be tempting to showcase your extensive vocabulary, try to use it in moderation and only when it adds value to the writing. Ultimately, your goal as a writer is to engage your audience and keep them interested in your story or message. Keeping your readers in mind when selecting your vocabulary can help ensure that your writing is effective and impactful.
Advanced vocabulary: The erudite professor began pontificating about the intricacies of the esoteric subject, inundating his audience with a plethora of abstruse terminology.
Simplified vocabulary: The knowledgeable professor started explaining the complexities of the obscure topic, using lots of difficult terms that were unfamiliar to most people.
Both sentences convey the same message, but the first one uses more advanced vocabulary that may slow down the reader. The second sentence uses simpler vocabulary that is easier to understand and moves the reader through the text more quickly.
Improving your sentence writing skills is a vital component of becoming a better writer. By using active voice, avoiding passive voice, cutting unnecessary similes, simplifying complex sentences, removing filtering, setting the pace with sentence length, and strategically using vocabulary level, you can create more engaging and impactful sentences and capture your readers’ attention.
Remember, the goal is not to impress with fancy words or convoluted phrasing. The goal is to effectively communicate your ideas and stories in a way that resonates with readers. Try following these ten tips. You will be on your way to crafting powerful, memorable sentences that elevate your writing to the next level!