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What's covered in this post
You need a good foundation in grammar to curate and intentionally use your style. So, we are embarking on the Grammar 101 section of the Style Series. This week we’re going to learn all about the 7 basic sentence patterns.
Be patterns involve any verbs derived from the infinitive “to be.” They include is, am, are, were, was, been, and being. Being Verbs have a bad reputation as weak verbs, but when used correctly, they can be powerful. There are two basic sentence patterns that use being verbs:
In the first pattern, the being verb is followed by an adverbial . An adverbial is any structure that modifies a verb. But in this pattern, it is usually an adverbial of time or place, or answers the questions When? or Where?
Example: She is in the chair.
She + is + in the chair = Subject + Be + Place Adverbial (where)
In the second pattern, the being verb is followed by a subject complement, which is either an adjective or a noun phrase called a referent. Referents rename the subject while adjectives describe the subject.
Examples: The playroom is a mess.
The playroom + is + a mess = Subject + Be + Referent
The playroom is messy.
The playroom + is + messy. = Subject + Be + Adjective
Linking verb pattern
Linking verbs are all verbs other than “to be” that are completed by a subject complement, such as taste, smell, feel, become, remain, look, appear, seem, and prove. There is only one basic sentence pattern that utilizes linking verbs:
But the linking verbs still serve different functions. The sensory-based linking verbs (taste, smell, etc.) usually link the subject to an adjective.
Example: This book smells amazing.
This book + smells + amazing = Subject + Linking Verb + Adjective
Other linking verbs, such as become and remain, link a noun to a referent.
Example: This house remains a mess.
This house + remains + a mess = Subject + Linking Verb + Referent
Intransitive verb pattern
An intransitive verb is an action verb (also considered a “strong” verb) that doesn’t take a direct object, such as ran, jump, laugh, and bark. Therefore, the intransitive verb pattern is the simplest pattern.
Example: The T-rex ran.
The T-rex + ran = Subject + Intransitive Verb
Transitive verb patterns
Like intransitive verbs, transitive verbs are action verbs. But transitive verbs take a direct object, which is a noun phrase that answers the question of What? or Whom? There are three basic sentence patterns that use transitive verbs:
In the first pattern, the transitive verb and direct object complete each other. You don’t need anything else to understand the core sentence.
Example: We eat pizza.
We + eat + pizza = Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object
In the second pattern, an indirect object completes the meaning of the sentence. An indirect object refers to whatever receives the direct object, or whomever the action is performed for.
Example: TikTok gave many writers a community.
TikTok + gave + many writers + a community = Subject + Transitive Verb + Indirect
Object + Direct Object
In the third pattern, an object complement follows the direct object. Like a subject complement, an object complement is a noun or phrase. But an object complement describes the direct object.
Example: My son calls quesadillas piñatas.
My son + calls + quesadillas + piñatas = Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object +
Exercise 2: Identifying Your Sentence Patterns
What's covered in this post
What is writing style?
This is because Writing Style has more to do with rhetoric than grammar. Rhetoric is how an author uses diction, sentence structure, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph arrangement to convey emotion, evoke empathy, form a logical path of thought, and create narrators and characters that readers will trust.
The 4 Elements of Style
While an author’s style may vary from project to project, it will remain consistent and recognizable overall. An author creates their writing style through the following elements:
(1) Sentence length and complexity is the most basic aspect of style, in that it is the most recognizable. When you open a book or look at your writing, you can tell at a glance whether you use shorter or longer sentences, and simple or more complex sentences. The punctuation gives it away. More commas, dashes, parentheses, and semicolons are an indication you use longer, more complex sentences. You'll see a lot of ending punctuation marks (periods, exclamation points, question marks) if you use shorter, more simple sentences. You're going to have a variety of both, but you will notice that you're more likely to use a complex over a simple sentence.
(3) Word choice focuses not only on the connotation and denotation but also on the word size and how you create compounds.
(4) Favorite figures of speech (schemes and tropes) are how you add embellishment and decorate your prose, although that is not their sole function. Schemes involve the transference of word order, and tropes involve the transference of meaning. We'll be discussing the different types of schemes and tropes later in this series, but some examples of schemes include polysyndeton (many conjunctions), parallelism, and elision. Some examples of tropes are: metaphor, puns, and personification.
4 Factors that affect Style
While the above four elements remain consistent overall and therefore recognizable, your Writing Style varies from project to project through the following four factors:
Exercise 1: Sentence length and complexity
As an author, one of the most important things you can learn is how to describe and practice your unique writing style. This not only helps you use your writing style more intentionally, but it also enables you to discuss your choices with your editor.
So beginning in June, I'm going to post a series on Writing Style.
What you'll learn in this series
Each post will include a breakdown of the week's topic, a link to my TikTok, and an exercise. Currently, I'm planning on the exercises to build off one another. The goal is that, at the end of the series, you'll understand your writing style and be able to describe it to others.
Content Guidance: This book contains grooming, on-page SA, and religious trauma related to purity culture and the patriarchy, and therefore this review includes discussion regarding the treatment of those issues.
I'm going to preface this review by saying this book is important. As someone from a similar background, I found the confusion and tension Emma feels throughout her sexual awakening and exploration relatable and portrayed well. Emma was raised to believe that her body was not her own and in order to be good, she had to deny her very natural feelings and bodily functions. So her choice to deconstruct those beliefs and search for a healthier relationship with her body, sexuality, and feelings is something I loved to see on the page, and I'd love to see more books explore this.
Generally, I loved the relationship dynamics in this book. They interweave and overlap in a way that is very high school. Tanner and Emma's romance is fast-paced and intense; Emma's friendships are loving and challenging; and Emma's changing relationship with her dad is frustratingly understandable. C.L Walters created complex characters with complex relationships, and the way the changing relationships challenge Tanner and Emma's beliefs and romance is the star of this book.
However, this book felt about 150 pages too long. I think Walters fell into the trap of wanting to tell all the stories in one book (a trap I know all too well). As a result, several side plots and backstories felt tagged on rather than integral to the story. Unfortunately, this includes the sexual assault and grooming backstories. I know from the author's note at the end of the book that Emma's #metoo backstory and her consequent struggle with her self-worth due to her religious background were especially important to Walters, and while I agree it's an important story to tell, it felt like it should've been part of a different story or novel. Emma's purity culture upbringing was enough for me to believe she would struggle with her desire for Tanner.
This is the same with Tanner's grooming backstory. While I agree it's important to show that all people can be grooming and sexual assault victims, it didn't feel essential to Tanner's story in this book. I think it would've been better represented with a different character and a different story.
Finally, the Tanner's-favorite-book subplot didn't feel essential to the story, and I didn't understand the excerpts throughout. I loved the scene where Tanner and Emma are reading it together, but I don't think Tanner's secret bookishness added any actual depth to his character or story. It could've been removed without harming their love story or the friendship and family subplots.
Since these stories felt more tagged on than essential, they distracted from Emma and Tanner's emotional journeys, which involve learning that their self-worth comes from, well, within. And while the underlying lesson is the same, each comes to the lesson differently and separately. I'm a sucker for a love story where fulfillment is NOT found in the romance, and Walters delivers. But Emma's journey to learn this was a little more frustrating than Tanner's. While I understand it may have been more difficult for her due to evangelical theology ingrained in her, I think the book's length detracted from her journey and character in the end.
That being said, I would recommend this book to those interested in purity culture representation and those who love sex-positive non-HEA love stories. If you enjoy Katie Cotugno's 99 Days, Erin Hahn's Never Saw You Coming, and open-door sex scenes, you'll enjoy this book.
In this sequel, Natalie Cammaratta teases out the tension and anticipation the end of "Falling & Uprising" creates while playing on the themes of knowing vs. feeling, friendship, trust, and societal backsliding. It seems that an uprising and seeming environmental disaster (Where did the ocean go? How does that even happen?) isn't enough for Kaycie and its islands to forgo their corrupt government and false sense of security.
Sounds familiar, right?
The complicated political climate of this dystopia reminds me of "Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith," in the best way. Serenity, like Padme, fights for a more fair world, and even with the amnesia shot, Serenity knows something is wrong with the Establishment, and she knows it's more than what she's told. Her sense of right is intact, despite the efforts of the people around her. She feels there is something wrong. The tension between knowing and feeling within Serenity builds out her character and makes it more interesting and complex than it was in Book 1. I liked Serenity in "Falling & Uprising." I LOVE the journey she goes through in "Scattered & Breaking."
Natale also expands the world for both the characters and the readers through Bram--and a third POV (which I am not going to name because I'm not sure if it's still a secret). Through Bram and the third POV, we see and learn more about the islands, how the uprising affected them, and why and how the sea disappeared. While their understanding of the world expands, friendships are tested, and they don't know who to trust. The interweaving of personal and societal relationships is intricate and, well, cool!
Basically, if you liked "Falling & Uprising," you'll love "Scattered & Breaking." It's STEAM-filled and passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. There are also several gay characters (one will surprise you!). I stand by my assessment that this series is for people who like "Downton Abbey," (Season 2!) and "Catching Fire."
And yes, Jase is still sketch. I also stand by that assessment.
Visit Natalie's website and purchase "Scattered & Breaking" through Amazon.
The rates change does not affect any 2022 edit scheduled prior to January 1, 2022. Therefore, if you schedule your edit in 2021, the 2021 rates will apply.
The new rates are still below the median editorial rates as provided by the Editorial Freelancers Association. I will always aim to provide editing at an affordable rate for indie authors, and I am looking for ways to assist indie authors in saving for their investment in editing.
In "Falling & Uprising," Natalie Cammaratta skillfully combines the old Hollywood glamour and witty banter of a classic Marilyn Monroe film with the suspense and worldbuilding of "Catching Fire," all in an apocalyptical setting that is all too real after the recent UN report. Like most YA apocalyptical dystopian novels, "Falling & Uprising" touches on inequality, governmental control, and environmental issues, but Natalie veers from a typical YA dystopian by making the protagonist a privileged, rich, and famous teenage girl. Serenity's worldview crashes when she learns of the other islands, and we follow her as she uses her privilege to take down the system that created it. This switch in perspective is both interesting and challenging. It's hard to create a sympathetic character in a teen who has everything, yet Serenity's sense of justice and loyalty makes her relatable.
It helps that we also get the oppressed's perspective through Bram, a grumpy marshal who was mysteriously saved from the system. Bram expresses the reader's doubts toward Serenity, which pushes the reader to feel defensive. Serenity in turn keeps Bram uncomfortable; she forces him to see that most Kaycians are not the enemy but a duped people. The tension between Bram and Serenity adds dimension to their perspectives and their world.
While the lead characters are male and female, Natalie left plenty of room for the Bechdel test. Not only does Serenity recruit her best friend Vogue to the uprising but she also unites and befriends all the Kaycians working with her toward the end of the Establishment. Although there is romance in the air (team Bram), the girls in the cast brainstorm solutions and discuss societal issues and technology. It's definitely a STEAM-friendly book.
However, the one thing I didn't notice was any persons of color. Whether there is truly a lack of people of color in Kaycie or if it was my fault as a reader in picking up descriptions, I'm not sure. It will be interesting to see how the character descriptions expand as Bram and Serenity's worlds expand in Book 2.
Overall, this book made me think, and it also made me want to drink merlot and martinis while thinking. I enjoyed reading it and ruminating over it. I recommend it to anyone who loves the glamour of Downton Abbey and the first half of "Catching Fire."
Visit Natalie's website and purchase "Falling & Uprising" through Bookshop and Amazon.
If you know me, you know this isn't a normal read for me. I'm easily spooked (I still contend that Jurassic Park is a scary movie.), and this book is SCARY. Shadow people are probably the most terrifying paranormal creature. If you don't believe me, listen to episode 59 of "Timesuck with Dan Cummins." But if I was going to read a paranormal thriller, it would be by Nicole MacCarron.
This book gave me all the feels. Sure, it gave me vivid nightmares about nonkillable zombies, but Nicole masterfully balances terror and horror with humor and heartfelt moments. In Hazel and her five classmates (ALL GIRLS. I don't think a boy is mentioned outside of a Coach, teacher, absent family member, or ghost. Bechdel Test Approved!), Nicole creates a diverse cast that includes both persons of color and queer characters. AND Hazel is a fat, talented athlete! Most of the girls I competed with as a teen were like Hazel, and I'd love to see this represented more in YA books.
These girls have clashing personalities and ideas. Some are more abrupt and some are more nurturing, but they are all well-developed with backstory, action, and dialogue. In their own unique ways, they comfort, mourn, and puzzle out solutions together. With them, I laughed, I cried, I had nightmares.
Nicole utilizes both plot and prose to create a well-paced book. There is just enough set up to make you care when all hell breaks loose. And it escalates quickly--it is a zombie apocalypses, after all--but then it deescalates, giving the reader (and characters) a short break while suspense and tension builds through subplots about friendship, sisters, and crushes (all of which I'm a sucker for.)
If you like "Hocus Pocus" and "Dawn of the Dead," I think you'll love "Hazel's Shadow."
BONUS: The sequel, "Hazel's Mirror," is being released tomorrow, October 21, 2021 and was edited by yours truly, so I can tell you it does not disappoint.
"Hazel's Shadow" is available on Amazon and Indigo (Kobo). Check out Nicole's website for more information.
Sarah Hawkins is a geek for the written word. She's an author and freelance editor who seeks to promote and uplift the authors around her.