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Creating Writing Style with Sentence Variety
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Good writing has a pleasing cadence. It sounds good to the reader’s ear. To accomplish that cadence, each paragraph needs to have a variety of sentence styles.
A writer achieves variety through varying sentences in these ways: sentence length, sentences patterns, sentence types, and sentence beginnings.
Vary Sentence Length
Sentences in a paragraph should be of various lengths. The average English sentence contains between seven and 12 words. Avoid a series of sentences that are around the same length. Instead, try drawing out a sentence or two by stretching its modifiers and adding some color to your descriptions, or compounding a subject or verb. Long sentences are lyrical and musical. Short sentences are the most emphatic.
Vary Sentence Patterns
English has four sentence patterns: Exclamatory, Declarative, Interrogative, and Imperative. This paragraph contains all four patterns. Exclamatory sentences exclaim something excitedly and always end with an exclamation mark. Do you understand? Interrogative sentences ask a question and end with a question mark. How obvious! Declarative sentences simply make a statement and simply end with a period. And imperative sentences require the reader or listener to do something. Try to avoid using imperative sentences. They sound bossy. Try finding each pattern in this paragraph.
Vary Sentence Types
Sentences can be combined or joined to create various types of sentences. The three types of sentences are the Simple Sentence, the Compound Sentence, and the Complex Sentence. The basic, uncombined sentence is called a Simple Sentence. You can combine two or more simple sentences; this combination creates either a compound sentence or a complex sentence. A compound sentence combines two or more complete sentences with either a semi-colon (;) or with a coordinate conjunction. The coordinate conjunctions can be easily memorized with the acronym FANBOYS: For And Nor But Or Yet So. Sentences joined with one of the FANBOYS are easy to write, and they are easy to read.
Use a Variety of Subordinate Conjunctions
When you use a subordinate conjunction to combine two simple sentences, you create a complex sentence. Subordinate conjunctions are like the operators of sentences, but instead of telling the reader to multiply, add, or divide, they tell they reader to think about complex relationships among sentences. These subordinate conjunctions establish a time relationship between sentences: when, before, after, while, as soon as, and until. As soon as you have finished reading this, you can go out and play.
Vary Beginnings of Sentences and Paragraphs
Although the basic English sentence is in the order, Subject - Verb - Completer, not all sentences have to begin with the subject. Notice the previous sentence began with a subordinate clause. Beginning a sentence with an -ing word also adds variety. Sometimes, begin with an adverb, like in this sentence. Or sometimes, you can actually begin with a coordinate conjunction.
Good Writing Mixes it Up
Good writing is like a good diet: It has plenty of variety with limited fatty content. That varied sentence structure will keep your prose flowing and your reader moving along with you. And at the end of the meal - I mean paragraph - your reader will feel satisfied.
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