Bad Sentence

“He had Dickerson beside him and eight officers arranged behind him.”

This is a sentence from a published book and an incorrect use of had.

Had is to be used in the PAST tense.

Dickerson had been walking at his side, but he wasn’t there now.

He had commanded Dickerson to stand at his side. Now that they were in battle, he was glad for the Sergent’s fighting ability.

The publish sentence should read —      “He ordered Dickerson to his side and arrange the eight offers behind him.”

“The fire had been brought under control.”   What????

Simply say, “The fire was under control.” and move on.

Laborious sentences stop readers. It does me any way. I’m moving along quite nicely then there comes a sentence like that and I think, “Isn’t there anyone to tell the author this is a bad sentence? What is the line editor for? Doesn’t the publisher know better?” Evidently not for there it is in print.

“It resembled a sliver beetle, though lacking legs.”

Again more words than are necessary.

Say, “It resembled a legless silver beetle.”

Sometimes we make sentences labor more than they need to. If it’s part of a character’s voice, that’s a completely different matter. But on the average, we tent to use too many words to say very little. In so doing, it disrupts the flow of the story. A reader may have to stop and reread the sentence in an effort to understand what is being said. It takes the reader out of the story. Do it too many times and a reader may stop reading.

I’ve stopped reading a poorly written book. It aggravates me. I keep correcting bad sentences in my head. So I stop and look for another book to read. Unfortunately, there are more poorly written books than there are good ones.

The more educated reader, will loudly complain about the author’s lack of knowledge of the English language. Don’t embarrassed yourself by being ignorant. Learn your craft or find someone to edit your sentences.

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