Post # 2 Sentence Structure

One of the more frequent aspects of writing that I see in first-time writers is sentence structure. This is one of the more basic topics of writing, but it is so important to readability, which is crucial in history and true crime titles, but applies to all writing.

Simply put, your sentence structure needs to vary. You don’t have to worry about using sentence structure as much as you do in, say, fiction, but it is vital to keep your reader reading.

Many times, authors fall in love with a potential structure. That said, it can cause problems. Like everything, the sentence structure needs to vary. And more, it needs to be consistent in the various elements you use.

The above paragraph is an example. The sentence structure remains the same. All four sentences are the same. They start with a clause. They end with an independent clause.

The above paragraph is also an example. The first paragraph uses the same structure for all the sentences. The following paragraph features sentences all the same in length, essentially. As you read them, you can easily notice the monotony. Repeated sentence structure becomes tedious. You need your sentences to vary in both length and construction to keep the writing fresh.

Use complex sentences in addition to simple sentences. And, even better, use sentences of varying length to break up the monotonous tone.

One more aspect of sentence structure is ensuring you don’t have too many sentences with too complex a structure.

Take this sentence, for example.

“Anyone who feels that if so many more students whom we haven’t actually admitted are sitting in on the course than ones we have that the room had to be changed, then probably auditors will have to be excluded, is likely to agree that the curriculum needs revision.”

Now, technically speaking, this sentence is grammatically correct. It doesn’t break any major rules. But, if you actually read it, you probably had to read it more than once to get the idea. That’s the kind of thing you want to avoid. Don’t make your reader do work like this too often in a manuscript. Make it easier for them to understand you.

This doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be “one fish, two fish.” Not at all. It just means that you have to keep an eye on your sentence structure to ensure you are giving your reader the clearest and most concise language you can.

You should tell your story in the simplest way possible. Keep it tight!

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