1. mrieder79

    mrieder79 Probably not a ground squirrel

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    Size does matter: sentence length.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mrieder79, Jul 11, 2016.

    I'm no pro--still a beginner, really, but as my current manuscript is putting on weight, I have noticed that my sentences are getting shorter. Not all of them, but more of them. I find myself using conjunctions less and periods more. I string together shorter sentences that follow the same logical flow rather than trying to cram too many ideas into a monstrous conjunction beast. I feel like this improves the rhythm and flow of my writing.
    How do you approach sentence structure?
     
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  2. IlaridaArch

    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Well I haven't gotten into editing yet, so I don't have same kind of approach yet. But my main concern is to use it as extra force behind the words; shorter sentences in dialogue boost the feeling of intense convo, and longer sentences make it seem more peaceful.

    That's the only thing I have thought about the length of them. So I got that going on for me.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's true that shorter sentences speed up the reading experience. So by all means use short sentences if you want the passage to gallop along. Sometimes that's what you need to happen, but beware of shortening all of them. Most people need a bit of a rest while reading, and if the whole thing is short and punchy, the reader is likely to feel short and punched at the end of the story.

    I always strive for the balance I need for what I'm trying to convey. That means shorter sentences in a scene that contains activity, and longer, more leisurely ones during the general development scenes. Of course you can also vary the sentence length within these scenes as well. As soon as the rhythm becomes obvious, it probably needs to be changed.

    At all times, as an author, I try to remain invisible. I don't want my readers to be conscious of my sentence structure or word choices, only my story itself. Whatever it takes to accomplish that, I'll do it.
     
  4. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    I focus on the clarity. That's usually a good guide.
     
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  5. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

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    This is my biggest goal. I don't want the reader to end up thinking "Why is this dude using ; so often?" or "Geez .. Every other sentence starts with "He"
     
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  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Variety is the crucial thing. That's my opinion. A string of short sentences sounds stilted. It's not pleasant to read. Same with long sentences. This sounds bad if you read it aloud. Doesn't it?

    Mix it up with short, medium, and long sentences next to each other and prose flows much better.
     
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  7. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I go by rhythm. Sentence variety is more my thing. Plus I've found that both short and long sentences have their uses. With a long sentence you can build and build virtually telling a small story within that sentence. With a short sentence you can have a good whammo impact. So depending on what I need I shift between the two. Also it doesn't always happen first draft. It's something that can be fine tuned in later drafts.
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Like Peach above me, I go by rhythm too. I like to listen to the beat of the sentence and I try to match the words I use with the "feeling" I'm going for for the sentence. I do this most heavily when I'm most inspired by the scene - eg. when I'm really into it :) At my driest, I don't hear any rhythm at all and my sentences come out bland. They're not bad - they're just simple, uninteresting. They're not bad sentences, don't get me wrong - they work - but those kind of sentences altogether in one long page makes for a boring, uninspired read. That's usually when I know I'm not really into it. My best work feels and hears like music to me, like the beat of a drum.
     
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  9. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Senior Member

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    sentence length can help alter the pace of your story. Shorter sentences can help reflect more anxious, frantic scenes. The long can help slow things down when needed. In between the variety paints the rhythm and tempo however you want.
     
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  10. Zeenat

    Zeenat New Member

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    Do some Extra work on Words, Make them Real whether they are short or long, it doesnt matters, the power of each word is matter.
     
  11. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributor Contributor

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    I have my poor husband read everything I write out loud to me and I can hear where the sentences don't flow right (and all sorts of other clunkiness). As they say, the ears catch what the eyes miss!
     
  12. AASmith

    AASmith Senior Member

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    It depends on the tone of your book. I have some long sentences but then i balance them out with a short sentence after. It's first person so it also depends on the MCs thought process in that particular scene.
     

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