Director’s Corner: The Compelling, Emotional Complex Sentence

jeanne

Jeanne Cavelos is the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust. She was a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she worked for eight years, editing the fantasy/science fiction program, the Abyss horror line, and other fiction and nonfiction. Jeanne is also the bestselling author of seven books and numerous short stories and articles. She has won the World Fantasy Award and twice been nominated for the Stoker Award.

Jeanne has run the Odyssey Writing Workshop for the last 26 years, and this year announced the breakthrough new program Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Find out more about Jeanne here and more about the Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop here.

Jeanne’s article below, “The Compelling, Emotional Complex Sentence,”originally appeared at Writer Unboxed on January 17, 2020.


If you’re like me, you struggle to find the best sentence structure to express each idea in your story. Would a long sentence that draws readers in be best? Or a short one that carries impact? Would it be stronger to have one independent clause with several dependent clauses attached? Or would two independent clauses better convey the situation?

Continue reading “Director’s Corner: The Compelling, Emotional Complex Sentence”

Director’s Corner: Looking/Eye Words

Jeanne Cavelos is the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. She was a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she worked for eight years, editing the fantasy/science fiction program, the Abyss horror line, and other fiction and nonfiction. Jeanne is also the bestselling author of seven books and numerous short stories and articles. She has won the World Fantasy Award and twice been nominated for the Stoker Award.


Looking/Eye Words

Many authors overuse words involving looking and eyes. They describe their characters looking, glancing, gazing, staring, studying, seeing, surveying, scanning, peeking, leering, ogling, noticing, watching, blinking, glaring, and just generally eyeballing everything. Characters’ eyes flash, burn, linger, darken or brighten, and even change color. Characters’ eyes drop to the floor (ouch!); they roam around the room (eeek!). Or characters may raise the ever-popular eyebrow.

At Bantam Doubleday Dell, I once edited a book in which the author described characters looking in almost every paragraph. The author gave his male character a line of dialogue, then said, “He looked at her.” Then the female character said a line of dialogue, and “her eyes narrowed on him.” Then the male character spoke, and “he looked away.” The female character said nothing, only “stared at him.” This went on for 600 pages.

While that is an extreme example, overuse of looking/eye words is a problem for many writers today. Continue reading “Director’s Corner: Looking/Eye Words”

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