Thursday, 22 July 2010

Thunderstorms and rain


Editing makes me notice my bad habits. Sad but true. I know that one of the golden rules for good writing is to vary the sentence structure, and I love reading good writing. Dorothy Dunnett’s was always, and still is, pure pleasure. We all know that most English sentences start with a subject and a verb, in one form or another. I ran, for instance. She cried, Susan hurled, Bill heaved. This can leave you with a series of Susan doing all sorts of things in a page, and it soon becomes repetition with a big, capital R.

Easy to change, you think. So subordinate clauses come creeping out of the woodwork. Example: While waiting for Harry, Matho cleaned his nails. Or Smoothing down her brocade stomacher, Anne made a decision about Henry. And before you know it, subordinate clauses become a bad habit.

Someone pointed out the other day that I had a habit of threesomes. (No, not what you think!) I saw what Caroline meant, and I’m glad she told me. Used judiciously, they’re good, and they do seem to flow for me, but too many of them is bad, bad, bad. Meg peered in the mirror, tweaked her hat to a more becoming angle and kissed her own image.
When we start out writing, it’s usually adjectives and adverbs that bring grief. Characters always do things strongly, weakly or beautifully. (I’ve just stumbled into a threesome there!) But we soon learn that all we need do is select a stronger verb, one that describes the action without needing a prop. Henry sauntered into the room is much better than Henry walked slowly into the room.

As for France ~ we have a grasshopper clinging to the outside of the windowpane and so have a close up view of its nether regions. Mighty Mouse continues to zoom across the sink unit, leaving neat little turd pellets as he goes. He tried to get into the toaster tonight and was last seen disappearing behind the cooker. His sister peeked out from underneath the sofa this afternoon when we were both reading quietly (because it rained all day and we only managed one walk) but soon retreated on encountering dh's feet.
Last night we had the most horrendous thunderstorm . One thunder clap was so violent we thought a bomb had landed. The lights went out and the thingummy popped. Good thing I wasn’t using my laptop at the time. Then we remembered the fridge, and the freezer downstairs.

If we didn’t so something, all the food would spoil…so dh bravely got up in the pitch black, stumbled across the hall into the main room, found the torch and then went downstairs which is dark and cold even at midday though its not a cellar, you understand. Just the lower floor of the mill. There he did whatever it is you do to the fuses (popped them back in?) and came back to bed, where I had kept his side warm for him. My hero!

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