Over Christmas, my husband and I were indulging in one of our more recent traditions, which is watching the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s DVD The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. If you’re not familiar with TSO, they’re a bit of a brain-stretcher. Their music is essentially heavy metal, but they are backed by a full symphonic orchestra. They are not the kind of band I would normally gravitate toward, but their DVD production was an instant hit with both of us.
In any event, one of their guest singers was singing a song (not your traditional Christmas carol) and I was listening to the words and following the story of the song and began to think about how we—all of us humans—are storytellers. As a writer, of course, I can easily say I am a storyteller. My husband is an actor, and I’ve realized that he, too, is a storyteller, albeit in a different way. No one can deny the popularity of books, TV and film, and all of those things tell stories. Our music and songs do as well, as do pictures, jokes, anecdotes, even normal conversation. When you think about it, is there any medium we use to communicate that does not tell stories? Continue reading “Storytellers, All”
by John Kenny
Book Genre: Action Adventure/Thriller
Available from Amazon.
Searching for the truth is the most dangerous thing firefighter Donny Robertson will ever do. Everyone believes the blaze that killed Donny’s Captain, was just a tragic accident. Everyone but Donny that is. And the people who will do anything to keep the truth hidden.
He was thinking too much. He was trying to plan the whole fire and they hadn’t even arrived yet. He was scared. Scared was good, up to a point. Donny didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t a little scared going into a fire. That wasn’t courage, it was stupidity, and it would get you hurt or killed. Beyond sensible caution, however, fear was just as dangerous: it led to panic, and panic was deadly. They could see the flames boiling out of the second-story window as they turned onto Pembroke Street. A crowd of people stood gawking and pointing, and a man on the front lawn was screaming about a lady trapped on the third floor. Donny took a deep breath. Trust your instincts, he told himself.
What others say:
“The Spark” by John Kenny combines all the elements of a good crime novel: intrigue, conflict, suspense, action, and a touch of romance… Highly recommended. – Richard Blake, Reader Views
Back in broadcast journalism school, I was taught that the shorter and simpler the sentence structure, the better. Subject-verb-object ruled the day. Semicolons were verboten. I was told to count the words in my sentences to make sure I had no more than twenty words in each. (I’ve since heard the new rule is ten words per sentence. Yikes.) It made sense to keep sentence structure simple because we were writing for the ear – and a pretty distracted ear at that, given that the audience is probably either getting the kids off to school or driving to work in rush-hour traffic, with the radio as background noise.
Now that I write fiction, my sentence structure has gotten a little more involved. Narrative passages replete with adjectives and adverbs are fine (although I still try to go easy on the adverbs, preferring active verbs instead). I might even throw in a modifying clause here and there. But I find that short, punchy, subject-verb-object sentences still have their place.
It all has to do with what you’re trying to accomplish in the scene you’re writing. A complex sentence takes longer to read; a paragraph full of complex sentences, even longer. If what you’re after is lyrical prose that makes your reader stop to savor every nuance, then complex sentences will suit you just fine.
But if you want to move the action along, the use of short sentences will help your reader race through to the end. Like this: Continue reading “In Defense of Short Sentences”