writing varietyI came across this interesting article on sentence variety for writers. Thought it was worth sharing with you.

Hints on Variety
Try an occasional question, exclamation, or command. A question can be especially useful at the beginning of a paragraph where you want to summarise quickly what preceded and then launch into what will now follow. “And what were the results of this Proclamation of 1763?” This reminds your readers where you are in your discussion — Ah yes, that’s what we’re talking about — and prepares them for what comes next.

A command or directive provides direction and energy. Readers react to being grabbed by the collar and told what to do. It’s hard to ignore, if not to resist. Tone is terribly important here. A bit of well-intentioned cajoling is usually more useful than in-your-face shouting. “Learning the principle of parallel structure can be the most important thing you learn in writing class. Learn it now!”

Try beginning an occasional sentence with something other than the normal subject-followed-by-verb order of things. Begin with a modifying clause or participial phrase instead. “After Pontiac’s insurrection led to the Proclamation of 1763, a brief period of peace ensued. Having led his people in a successful resistance, Pontiac was astonished to discover how Indian tribal differences and individualism began, instantly, to erode their base of unified power.”

Try beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, nor, for, yet, or, so). Many writers have had it pounded into their skulls that if you begin a sentence with and or but that sentence should have been linked (instead) to the previous sentence in a compound structure. It goes against the grain to begin a sentence with and or but. But give it a try. A sentence beginning with a conjunction will almost always call attention to itself and it will always serve primarily as a connective device. If that’s what you want, use it — but not so often that the effect gets out of control and becomes self-defeating.

Try using a variety of basic sentence structures. We can categorise sentences into four main types, depending on the number and type of clauses they contain:

Simple (one independent clause):
We drove from Connecticut to Tennessee in one day.
Compound (more than one independent clause):
We were exhausted, but we arrived in time for my father’s birthday party.
Complex (one independent clause and at least one dependent clause):
Although he is now 79 years old, he still claims to be 65.
Compound-complex (more than one independent clause and at least one dependent clause):
After it was all over, my dad claimed he knew we were planning something, but we think he was really surprised.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing

Hints For Writing Variety
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One thought on “Hints For Writing Variety

  • 17/05/2010 at 6:17 pm

    Cool post, Derek. This was a good reminder :)

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