So you’re attempting to get your character through one room and into the next. Only, you’re having a little trouble deciding how to go about describing it. It’s just one of those days; your brain is fuzzy and nothing exciting seems to be flowing at the moment (and yes, I still have those days a lot too). So what should you write?
“He opened the door.”
“He entered the room.”
“He walked through the door.”
Ugh. Yeah. Well, there’s actually nothing wrong with these sentences on their own; they can be effective, depending on the context and surrounding narrative. But sometimes when your sentences are already starting to get dull and monotonous, you need to start experimenting and thinking more creatively. So this is what the exercise will try and help you with.
In the above example, I chose to play around with the phrase “He opened the door.” How many different ways could it be described? Of course there are many more possibilities. But hopefully, the list of sentences that I do have down will be enough, and give you a sense of the variations.
I’m not an English teacher, so trying to explain the structure of each sentence and the difference between a gerund phrase and an appositive phrase would probably end up in a train wreck. So to keep it simple, these are some of the things I considered for each sentence:
The first word. Will it be an adjective, a noun, a verb, a conjunction, etc.?
Where the focus is.
The object being described.
The thing that’s doing the action, or the “verbing.”
The thing being acted upon, or “verbed.”
Go ahead and pick any action you want: Kicking a stone, remembering a person, getting too warm, running across a field, hearing a noise. Anything basic, keep it simple. Then see how many different ways you can describe the same action. Keep your sentences varied; begin with different types of words, switch between tenses, shuffle sentence fragments around, switch around the objects and indirect objects. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a “he” that’s opening the door—it can be his hands, or the door itself opening, or the man’s anger forcing it open, just to name a few examples. Think outside the box.
There’s nothing more frustrating than reading prose such as, “He looked at the water. It moved rapidly. He liked the scent of the flowers. His hair was messy and the wind made it worse. He was getting hungry.” Ew. Ew. Ew.
NOTE: While reading the list, it is going to sound repetitious and monotonous—the exact opposite of what I’m trying to encourage. So it’s important to remember to absorb the sentences individually and not read through them too fast. Envision them on their own and apart from each other.
So I hope you can use this as a reference to jump start the more creative voices in your head and to keep your sentences interesting and varied.
Thanks for reading! Hope this helps.