First Things First

putting your reactions after your actions

How many times have you read – or written – something like this:

She laughed as the waiter slipped and fell.

We all have. I still find sentences like this in my writing. What’s wrong with that sentence, you ask? I’m so glad you’re inquisitive.

Order is what’s wrong. What happened first? The laugh or the waiter falling? You got it. So why put the cart before the horse, or in our case, the reaction before the action?

Take a recent example from my writing. I didn’t catch this, but a crit partner did:

Before:

Her arm hair stood on end at a distinctive growl.

After:

A distinctive growl made her arm hair stand on end.

Easy huh? It usually is once we see it. I could reiterate this point to pound it in – and increase my word count so this article isn’t embarrassingly short – but I don’t think it’s necessary. Just remember – action, then reaction.

originally published in The Sword Review 2005-08-11

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