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The Beauty of Shorter Sentences


Beginning writers may be tempted to cram as much information as possible into each sentence. This is not advisable. Shorter sentences can convey the same level of detailed information without tiring the reader. Why are shorter sentences more effective? Quite simply, they hold the reader.s attention. Sentences that feature multiple clauses can be visually intimidating. This is especially true when writing technical texts or informative tracts. Often, these pieces suffer from exceptionally long sentences. Learning how to condense sentences is paramount to becoming an excellent writer.

  • Reading Aloud

    When is a sentence too long? While there are no set rules, an excellent way to determine suitable sentence length is to read the piece aloud. If the reader runs out of breath when reading a sentence, it.s likely that the sentence could be shorter. Writers should practice reading their pieces aloud on a regular basis. It helps them to improve their overall craft.

  • One Idea Per Sentence

    A technical writer is attempting to describe the process by which metal alloys are made. He writes a draft of the piece with sentences that routinely take up three to four lines. Each sentence is constructed to convey a part of the process. His sentence on smelting, for example, includes a historical introduction and then a detailed account of heat treatment. His mistake is simple. He is attempting to combine too many ideas into one sentence.

  • Clauses

    A "clause" is defined as a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought. Putting two independent clauses together without any kind of punctuation creates a run-on sentence. Writers should always be careful to make sure that each sentence expresses one thought clearly, and is not a mash-up of two separate sentences. "Heat treatment is a vital part of creating metal alloys it began in the early 12th century" is an example of a run-on sentence.

  • Developing an Outline

    The best way to write concise sentences is to first develop an outline. Frequently, writers become engrossed in their topic and neglect the structure of the piece. By carefully planning the structure of the essay beforehand, it will be much easier for the writer to create shorter sentences. The writer should consider his subject. What are the main points? He should write down between three and five main points that will become paragraphs. In the above example, the writer may construct an outline similar to this:

    How Metal Alloys Are Made
    Paragraph 1: Heat Treatment
    Paragraph 2: Historical Techniques
    Paragraph 3: Oxidation

    With these paragraph headings in mind, he can begin to craft each sentence. Ideally, each sentence should convey a single idea. In the above example, the writer should craft one sentence about the history of smelting. He should then write between two to four concise sentences on the process of heat treatment. He should arrange these sentences together into the paragraph on "heat treatment".

    By using shorter sentences the writer will interest his reader.


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