Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Varying Sentence Structure

Grace Note:  Due to multiple choir rehearsals and services for Holy Week, 
the next new Mosaic Moments will be posted on Saturday night, April 7, 2018.

Playing hookey? (Photo by Susie)

Sunset on Caspersen Beach. Photo by Riley.

(Clearly, her Mom is not the only one to inherit the gift of photography 
from Elliott H. Kone, founder of the Yale Audio-Visual Center.)

From The Orlando Sentinel, March 9, 2018


 I decided to use the two most recent chapters in Royal Rebellion as examples, because they are primarily action scenes with very little dialogue, meaning they need to be kept alive with plenty of varied sentence structure. The chapters will undergo many more edits before being ready for publication, but hopefully they will provide some good examples. (If not, it's major revision time!)

Example 1:
(Declarative sentences in blue.)

Kass stared at the icons on her comp screen—black for rebels, red for Regs. The black icons were growing larger, more menacing. Beyond the surprisingly thin black line—clearly, the Hercs had done their part in drawing the Reg fleet away from Titan—was Kraslenka. And Darroch. The goddess alone knew how this day would end. Kass said a silent prayer and waited for Tal’s signal to engage.


Although there are four declarative sentences (in blue)—meaning the subject of the sentence comes first, followed by the verb—the sentences are not all alike. One has a dash; one has double adjectives separated by a comma; one begins with "And"; and one as a double verb. (I'm using "double" in place of the term we learned in school, as I suspect "compound," makes most people's eyes begin to cross.) 

"And Darroch" is, of course, a fragment, used for emphasis. The other sentence begins with—if you'll pardon the jargon—a "prepositional phrase"; i.e., the sentence begins with words that follow a preposition. To clarify what a preposition is, here's a list of some of the most common ones: with, at, from, into, of, to, in, for, on, by, about, like, through, over, before, between, but, up, out, after, above.

Example 2:

The Psy “freeze” team came next—twenty of the best from the days of the Psyclid Occupation. Men and women who, with the aid of enlasé, could immobilize both soldiers and weapons with nothing more than the power of the mind. While they were disembarking, K’kadi and M’lani climbed up to hatch in Archer’s roof. From there, M’lani would have a clear line of sight over the heads of the Herc troops to Reg line of defense. She would also, when the cloak was dropped, be highly vulnerable, but not as much as those on the ground.


Sentence 1:  Declarative sentence varied with the dash.
Sentence 2:  Fragment
Sentence 3:  Prepositional phrase
Sentence 4:  Short prepositional phrase
Sentence 5:  Declarative sentence varied with a inserted prepositional phrase

Example 3:

M’lani crouched on the top step of the ladder that led up to the hatch. Reconnaissance complete, targets spotted, this, at long last, was her moment. The one she dreaded. The one she exulted in. It was up to her to make the way easier for the enlasé teams, and for the Herc ground troops.  


Sentence 1:  Declarative sentence varied by explanatory clause at end of sentence.
Sentence 2:  Opening non-prepositional phrase
Sentence 3:  Fragment
Sentence 4:  An "almost" fragment
Sentence 5:  Declarative sentence with prepositional phrases at the end*
    *comma added between the phrases because I was trying to emphasize the Herc involvement 
Example 4:

Gritting her teeth, shutting out years of pacifist conditioning, M’lani began with the towering T-bot on the left. Moving swiftly down the line, she took out all four giant war machines placed at precise intervals between the armored vehicles and stalwart Reg troops. One minute the towering bots were there; the next they were gone. Nothing but dust. 


Sentence 1:  Sentence beginning with a double gerund (a word ending in -ing)
Sentence 2:  Declarative sentence which ends with a prepositional phrase
Sentence 3:  Another sentence beginning with an "ing" word & ending with a prepositional phrase.
Sentence 4:  Short opening phrase, plus two declarative sentences separated by a semi-colon. (Comma after "minute" optional.)

Sentence 5Fragment

Example 5:

The men inside the armored vehicles, seemingly unaware of the loss, concentrated their fire on the advancing Herc troops. Once again targeting from left to right, M’lani disintegrated the vehicles that had appeared so menacing only moments earlier, though not before the final two managed to locate M’lani’s perch, firing their cannons only seconds before they too turned to dust. One shell was too high; the other plowed into the space where M’lani’s head had been but a second earlier—before she threw herself down the hatch, where her bodyguards caught her with ease. Being strafed by Tau-15s on Psyclid had been enough hone her reflexes for life. Never again would she be foolish enough to believe her special gift could keep her safe. 


Sentence 1:  Declarative sentence with inserted parenthetical statement
Sentence 2:  Sentence beginning with and adverb and an "ing" word and ending with a prepositional phrase
Sentence 3:  Two declarative sentences joined by semi-colon, plus additional prepositional phrases at the end
Sentence 4:  Sentence beginning with gerund (-ing word)
Sentence 5:  Inverted declarative sentence with split verb & beginning with an adverb. 

Until I began to choose paragraphs for this blog, I could not guarantee that I had used varying sentence structure, but it would appear that I did. I had a lot of source material to choose from. To make two chapters that were almost entirely narration interesting, I also used one-sentence paragraphs a time or two. Basically, it is essential to good writing that you mix up the way you say things.  Paragraph after paragraph of nothing but simple declarative sentences rapidly becomes dull as dishwater. So mix your sentence structure—make it attention-getting. Make it interesting. Don't be afraid to try different ways of saying the same thing. Some will work; some won't. Many a time I've left off the subject of a sentence, only to have to put it back in when I read over what I'd written. Nothing is set in stone. Be critical. Have your "short cuts" made your work move forward? Or will they make a reader frown, go back and have to read the sentence again?

In other words, be creative, but don't hesitate to fix something that doesn't work!

~ * ~

Kindle Scout is putting Rebel Princess, Book 1 of my Blue Moon Rising series, on sale for 99¢ from March 24 to March 31. The series is a SciFi Adventure with Romance, with more emphasis on plot, characters, and action than romance or tech talk.

For a link to Rebel Princess on Amazon, click here.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here.

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here.

To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to Blair's website above.  

Thanks for stopping by,


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