I’ve talked on several occasions about the importance of beginnings and endings. Whether in regards to your entire manuscript, the chapters or the individual scenes, it is important to use these moments to hook your reader.
Now I’m going to break this down one step further, to talk about sentences and paragraphs, and the concept of front-loading and back-loading.
Let’s look at each of these writing techniques individually.
This entails putting the important details, special information and keywords at the front of sentences, headings and/or paragraphs.
Why use front-loading?
- Identify the theme or purpose of the sentence/paragraph
- Readers are less likely to get bored
The room was filled with stuffy scientists.
🡺 Stuffy scientists filled the room.
My body registered the shock.
🡺 Shock ricocheted through my body.
I could block out the stench, the sense of Gideon’s body wasn’t so easy.
🡺 The stench of garlic and second-day socks I could block out, the sense of Gideon’s body wasn’t so easy.
And of course, if you’re looking at promoting your wonderful story, front-loading is a must.
Enter my competition and win a free copy of my new book.
🡺 Win a free copy of my book—enter my competition now
In contrast to the above, back-loading entails placing the important details, special information and keywords at the end of the sentence, heading and/or paragraph.
By using this technique, sentences/paragraphs are highlighted with powerful endings, instead of hiding these strong themes in the middle of the sentence/paragraph where they can be lost.
Why use back-loading?
- Hook the reader into reading the next sentence, paragraph or scene by ending with a strong word or series of words
- Ends your sentence, paragraph or scene with a bang
- Strong themes are highlighted and not lost somewhere in the middle of narration.
- Ending sentences with strong words can help speed up the pace of your writing
I plonked his patty and onions onto the grill, then turned back round to glare at him.
🡺 I plonked his patty and onions onto the grill, then turned back round to give him the glare.
Sue Williams, Murder with the Lot
Jayda retaliated with an eye-roll and a grumble from lack-of-sleep.
🡺 Jayda retaliated with an eye-roll and lack-of-sleep grumble.
Michelle Somers, Lethal in Love
“Sure, because I can see why you’d need to sell knickers using night-vision goggles.”
🡺 “Sure, because I can see why you’d need night-vision goggles for selling knickers.”
Janet Elizabeth Henderson, Lingerie Wars
Now, take a look at these paragraphs. See how the last word, even the last sentence, is designed to pack a punch.
Lacy moaned. Normally Sue’s perkiness didn’t bother her. But normally, Lacy didn’t have a murderer hiding in her bathroom.
🡺 Lacy moaned. Normally Sue’s perkiness didn’t bother her. But normally, Lacy’s bathroom didn’t shield a murderer.
Christie Craig, Divorced, Desperate and Delicious
I might have blinked— I’m really not sure about that either— and when I looked again, Elizabeth was gone.
🡺 I might have blinked— I’m really not sure about that either— and when I looked again, Elizabeth had vanished.
Harlan Coben, Tell No One
If I wanted to hide somewhere there’s no way I’d choose Rusty Bore. A hundred and forty-seven residents and every single one of them is watching. No one here forgets a thing. Especially your mistakes.
Sue Williams, Murder with the Lot
His suit was torn, blood staining the shredded sleeve.
🡺 His suit was torn, the sleeve shredded and bloodstained.
Sue Williams, Murder with the Lot
As with all writing craft, use front-loading and back-loading with discretion. Pick your moments. You won’t use this skill with every sentence or paragraph, but you will want to use it for those moments of impact or emphasis.
As you edit, why not take a look at your sentence structure? Can you tweak the word order to maximize impact? Are there opportunities to start or end sentences/paragraphs with strength? With strong words or strong themes?
And that’s all folks!
I hope I’ve given you food for thought on how to load your sentences or paragraphs for impact.
Firstly, thank you all for coming back this month. I really appreciate every one of you reading, commenting and sharing my posts.
Once again, I’m offering one lucky commenter a half hour skype session to discuss anything writing related. It could be your query, your synopsis or 300 words from your current work in progress. Yes, you heard right. We get to chat, face-to-face—or computer screen to computer screen—about whatever it is about your writing you’d like to discuss.
To enter the draw, please comment below and share the most surprising or useful thing you’ve learned since reading my Simply Writing blogs. Or perhaps you can pinpoint exactly how you’ll tweak parts of your current WIP to front or back-load.
Any and all comments welcome! I love reading your feedback and input each month ☺ and much as this blog isn’t set up for notifications, I always ALWAYS answer your comments. So make sure you pop back to check my replies ☺
If you’d like extra chances to win, share links to this blog on any or all social media sites. Tag me so I know you’ve shared, and the more shares, the more times I’ll place your name in the draw.
A name will be drawn in a week’s time, around Thursday 18th July and winners will be notified on the blog, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. Make sure you revisit the blog or watch my facebook posts to see when I’ve picked a winner ☺
Thanks so much to you all for stopping by. I won’t be blogging in August—it’s a crazy month and of course we have the fabulous RWA conference to look forward to. I hope to see many of you there. Please pop over and say ‘hi’. ☺
Have a fabulous month, and I’ll see you all again in September ☺
Michelle Somers is a bookworm from way back. An ex-Kiwi who now calls Australia home, she’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her real life hero and three little heroes in the making, and Emmie, a furry black feline who thinks she’s a dog. Her debut novel, Lethal in Love won the Romance Writers of Australia’s 2016 Romantic Book of the Year (RuBY) and the 2013 Valerie Parv Award. The second in her Melbourne Murder series, Murder Most Unusual was released in February 2017.
In between books, she runs workshops – both face-to-face and online – for writers wanting to hone their craft. The first book in her Simply Writing Series, Simply Synopsis, is changing the way writers craft this vital, yet perplexing, writing tool. And through her Simply Writing series of blogs, she hopes to simplify so much more.
You can find out all about Michelle, her adventures and her books at her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.
I had no idea about these concepts. Great examples and I’m already applying them.
I’m so glad I could share these writing techniques with you!
Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting 🙂
You’re entered into the draw. Heaps of luck!
It’s amazing how many concepts have names and people have figured out the patterns of things. I need more practice at the first one.
And as long as these concepts are used purposefully and discriminately, they are a powerful tool in writing.
Good luck with incorporating more front-loading into your writing 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by. Best of luck for the draw!
I’d heard of back-loading but not front-loading and it makes me wonder: is it best to use front-loading for opening a chapter or perhaps the start of a block of text then use back-loading for chapter endings?
And I’d love you to do a post on passive vs active sentences!
Great suggestion Karina. I’d like to see a post on passive vs active too! Thanks again Michelle for sharing your wisdom with us.
I agree. I’ll make a note to do a post on passive vs. active.
Thanks so much for stopping by each month and commenting!
Heaps of luck in the draw 🙂
I think it’s all about what you’d like to emphasize and how best to facilitate that 🙂
I’ll definitely make a note to do a blog on passive vs. active. That’s a great suggestion!
Thanks so much for stopping by each month and commenting.
Heaps of luck in the draw!
Another great post, Michelle. You’re really covering off on key concepts that give an author an edge and make manuscripts really sparkle. One of the great techniques I’ve learned, in addition to show don’t tell and deep POV, is front and backloading. It’s amazing the difference the technique has on sentences, it gives them so much power. Front and backloading creates a real punch. Look forward to your next article in September!
Yes! There are so many elements of writing craft, which when melded together make our writing stronger and more compelling. I’m so glad you’re finding my posts helpful.
Thanks so much for visiting each month and for commenting.
Best of luck in the draw!
Thanks again, it’s amazing how just changing a word or turning it around makes a big difference. Love your posts Michelle 🙂
Thanks so much for being such a loyal visitor and commenter 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoy the posts.
Heaps of luck in the draw.
I just read your comments to realise I’m already doing this in my current writing how uncanny is that. It’s a crime story with key characters who even though once caught on their way to a prison lockdown, two escape to scam all over again. I’d love you to read my 300 words I’m trying to get as much action as I can into my writing.
That’s great! Isn’t it funny how we often do these things instinctively?
Your story sounds like a lot of fun.
Thanks for commenting and I wish you all the best in the draw!
Once again, you display how talented you are.
If only my brain would function while working on my WIP, and update lines of text and turn them into interesting formatting to grab the readers attention. Then I would be happy.
Well done, Michelle on another fabulous lesson on back and front-loading.
Thanks so much ML!
I’m so glad you found the post useful. The more you think about this over time, the easier it will become. You’ll get there!
Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
Wishing you heaps of luck in the draw 🙂
Thanks for this – I’ve been trying to get better with sentence structure and front loading etc and this really helped show the importance of doing it.
I’ve been lurking for ages but first time commenting – you’ve given me food for thought a few times already.
I’m so glad you’ve come out from the shadows to comment! Welcome!
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad my posts make you think. I believe the more we see good craft in action, the more it cements into our subconscious and slowly seeps into our stories.
Wishing you heaps of luck in the draw 🙂
And the winner this month is . . .
Rosemary, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize.
Looking forward to seeing you all again in September! Have a great August, and if you’re going to RWA’s Melbourne conference, make sure you come up and say ‘hi’ 🙂