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Editor’s Corner

More wisdom from Carol Fisher Saller, whose keynote speech at the EAC Conference in June made me realize that grammar isn't something fixed and rigid, that you study once and are done forever.

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Stronger Writing: Starts, Beginnings, and Promises Made

Image of a portion of a reddish brown running track with painted lane divisions crossed by a perpendicular line with All writers are familiar with the aphorism “Finish What You Start”. It’s good advice. You can’t sell a story that’s not finished. Writers finish things.

But this post isn’t about that kind of starting and finishing.

This post is about starts and beginnings in action and dialogue: what they are, what they do, and how to use them to serve the story.

Let’s start with these pairs of sentences:

  • Louise smiled and began to walk away from me.
  • Louise smiled and walked away from me.
  • Ben grimaced and started unloading the dishwasher.
  • Ben grimaced and unloaded the dishwasher.
  • The queen began to rise from her throne.
  • The queen rose from her throne.

Do you see the difference? In each pair, the first sentence emphasizes the start of an action, whereas the second emphasizes the action itself.

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