Friday, November 23, 2007

Vary sentence structure and length

Harbrace Chapter 30 is on Variety: Vary the structure and length of your sentences to maintain the reader's interest.
Seek sentence variety to make your writing livelier. Inexperienced writers tend to rely too heavily--regardless of content or purpose---on a few familiar, comfortable structures.

Among many items for a writer's bag of tricks in Chapter 30, there's Rule 30b(2): Begin with a prepositional phrase or a verbal phrase.
  • Out of necessity, they stitched all of their secret fears and lingering childhood nightmares into their existence. --Gloria Naylor [prepositional phrase]
  • To be really successful, you will have to be trilingual: fluent in English, Spanish, and computer. --John Naisbitt [infinitive phrase]
  • Looking out the window high over the state of Kansas, we see a pattern of a single farmhouse surrounded by fields, followed by another single homestead surrounded by fields. --William Ouchi [participial phrase]

Another very handy tip, No. 30b(4), suggests: Begin with an appositive, an absolute phrase, or an introductory series.

  • A place of refuge, the Mission provides food and shelter for Springfield's homeless. ---Shelley Aley [appositive]
  • His fur bristling, the cat went on the attack. [absolute phrase]
  • Light, water, temperature, minerals---these affect the health of plants. [introductory series]

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