[Feature photo: epSos .de]
Try to read this:
Walking into the room, my long hair waving in the airstream from the old air-conditioner, high heels clicking on the floor, fear filled me because of the ice-eyed man staring at me, his late-for-it gray ponytail and bald forehead making me want to run back out the door through which I had just entered, to go back out into the deadly heat of a July morning in Bend, Oregon.
Feeling carsick? Not giving a good cahoots about the long-haired narrator, the cliché hipster, the deadly heat and Bend, Oregon? You’ve just been dizzied by the nauseating results of the writer being afraid of short active sentences.
Here is the same paragraph written as though I was listening to Keith Moon soloing at 1970 at The Isle of Wight festival. Which, by the way, I am.
I walked into the room and was slammed by icy air from the ancient AC. My gut tightened – not so much from the cold air as from the sleet in the eyes of the balding guy who stepped out of the bathroom. “So,” he said. “You’re here. In fucking Bend, Oregon, in the hottest July we’ve seen for years. Welcome.”
I started to turn around to the door. “No,” he said. “Take off those high heels and walk toward me.”
Your turn. Take out some of your writing. Go here and remember this: You’ll sound like Keith if you follow this simple trick: Alternate the length of your sentences. Start with a one clause sentence: I write. Then, play with a two clause sentence: I’ve written since I was twelve and realized that the little notebook was the only friend who wouldn’t narc me out. Okay, back to one clause: I wasn’t alone. Three clauses: I wrote all of that, closed the notebook and put on my headphones.
Have at it.
Note: You have probably noticed that I use sentence fragments. That’s for rhythm. I do it because I’ve learned the rules and, therefore, get to break them. You too, can have that glorious future.