Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Want to Write Better? Shorten Your Sentences

I've always written very tightly, and there's a good reason for that. There's no point in using words that you're not going to apply. You don't use words that are not going to be employed in the narrative or context. It should consist of short, sharply focused sentences, each of which is a whole scene in itself. By that, you put the reader right in there where the story is. —Theodore Sturgeon

Have you ever read a sentence overflowing with ideas and information and constructed with so many clauses that the sentence required lots of commas and semicolons and even a parenthetical remark or two (just to get it all in), so that by the end of the sentence you forgot where the sentence began and what the writer was trying to tell you in the first place? 

I have. As a writing coach who often works with academics, I see sentences that make my 66-word creation above look stunted. You can easily improve your writing by shortening your sentences. (Not all of them—that would sound choppy.) Keep your longer sentences to 25 words or less. If you’re not sure about a sentence’s length, read it aloud. If the sentence leaves you gasping for air, shorten it. Your readers will thank you!

WANT TO USE THIS TIP IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander teaches professionals how to write more, get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine athttp://www.writenowcoach.com and sign up to be a member of her Write Now! Mastermind class for professionals at http://www.writenowmastermind.com

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