Lucid Writing Advice VIII
by Antavius S. Flagg
Page 1 of 2
5 ways to make more effective sentences
- Decrease or increase the length of a sentence
- Vary the style of a sentence
- Unnecessary words and Double Negatives
- Beware of too many fancy end marks
- Sentences deserve to be useful
In this article I will describe how you can make every sentence you type a
powerful one, and draw the reader in.
DECREASE OR INCREASE THE LENGTH OF A SENTENCE
In music the basis of the tone floats on a bed of rhythm. Writing is a lot
like music in that the writers wants a bed of rhythm floating beneath their
words all the time.
A way to do this is to judge the size of a sentence. Readersí eyes will
quickly tire if you force them to read long, drawn out sentences one after
another. And they will have the sense of being cheated from the story if you
let them read short, nondescript ones as well.
In this case, their is no rhythm in the story, and the words all but a song
that will not be listened to very often.
Look at the absence of rhythm below in using short sentences.
The sun was red. The grass was green. Birds chirped in the bright sky.
Winds frolicked the trees. The air was dry and humid. She sat on the riverbank.
White clouds rolled ahead of her.
I wouldnít force myself to even read something like that. None of the
sentences above even reached more that six words, and each one sounds just like
the one before it.
Here is too many long sentences used:
He went out of the big house and looked down the road to see if he saw
her coming around the bend of pine trees. The dirt road was empty except for a
flock of pigeons playing tag in the hot summer evening air. He couldnít help
but curse because he didnít see her yet. She would have a lot of explaining to
do whenever or if she did arrive.
As much as actions, effective sentences can give the sense of something
really happening. Notice the rhythm in the bottom passage because I have varied
the word count of the sentences
The conductor hopped from the train with a smile. With one hand he helped
the passengers unload, and with the other shook their hands. A man came to the
doorway. The smile vanished. The conductor leaned in close, unless someone hear
" Do you think itíll work?"
The man nodded his head. " If it donít, then curse me."
The smile returned and the conductor helped the gentlemen off the
You want your writing to have a feeling of Morse code: long, long, short,
short, long, short, long, short...thatíll make your sentences more interesting.
But of course thatís not a rule you have to follow closely, mainly so you can
get the point.
VARY THE STYLE OF A SENTENCE
A could way to do this is to use what is called concrete language. That
simply means to use words that are more definite.
The sounds of the forest awoke him. This sentence is abstract.
The sound of monkeys and insects awoke him. This is
Concrete sentences are more poetical and a lot less general that abstract
Writers have been stressed that a sentence fragment is something to be
avoided. Is it? Well, not entirely. Using a sentence fragment can had a
staccato rhythm to your story. Look:
Hanna fought her way through the darkness of the corridors without a
feeling of direction. She felt herself turning a corner. She thought their
would at least be some light. There wasnít any. Only darkness and
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Antavius S. Flagg, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.