Archive for August 19th, 2011

Friday, August 19th, 2011 by Rosemary
The Worst Sentence I Ever Wrote

Here were my initial ideas for today’s blog post:

Writer’s Block

What to do when fear keeps you from writing

Managing distractions

Writer’s Block

Finally I put out a call on Twitter/Facebook for suggestions. Because yesterday was THAT kind of day. And Renee from Facebook suggested “What was the worst sentence you ever wrote?”

Ha! Like I would post that in public.

Okay, I totally would, if I could (A) remember one of the infinite number of stinker sentences I’ve written in five and three-fourths books, not to mention a bazillion pages of unfinished manuscripts. And (B) if I had kept any of them.

(Please don’t take this as a challenge to go through my books and find terrible sentences.)

I’m pretty much convinced that most of my sentences are terrible until I tinker with them. Or at least, there are very few sentences I don’t think could be better.

But one of the most memorable ones was this:

From the dark margins of the lamplight, someone spoke, his voice like something something ominous badass.

I tweeted that after I wrote it, and it’s become an inside joke with my friend Jenny and I. Any time we’re looking for an ineffably perfect word that keeps eluding us, we’ll say we need a something something ominous badass.

So I can’t technically call this the worst sentence I ever wrote, and here’s why:

  1. It’s unfinished so it doesn’t really qualify as a sentence.
  2. If those were actual words, it would be a decent sentence (IMHO), with a nice rhythm and (at least) one evocative prepositional phrase in it.
  3. I knew what I needed and I didn’t fall back on a (shudder!) cliche.
  4. I wrote it and moved on to finish the scene.

In fact, that last point may make this the BEST sentence I ever wrote.

See, I’m a tinkerer.  I will tinker over a sentence for an hour. And on a bad writing day (see my initial ideas for today’s blog topic), something like this could stop me cold, and give me a reason– Well, a “reason” –to walk away from the computer while I think. I mean, “think,” by which I mean play some Rock Band or eat some chips.

So, really, the worst sentence ever written? Is the sentence you don’t write.

Keep at it. Whatever you have to do… Write. Whether it’s slapping down a placeholder so you can move on, or calling for help on Facebook, just write. You can always go back and fill in the something something is later. But you can’t edit with what hasn’t been written.

Okay, so, what’s the worst (or best) sentence YOU’VE ever written?