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Thread: Sentence length

  1. #1
    shannon castleman
    Guest

    Sentence length

    Been reading up on writing. I have come across a few points that mention Resonance. It deals with sentence length in a paragraph. Am I understanding correctly when it says that, for example, if I have five sentences in a paragraph, they shouldn't all be of the same length? If so, what defines a short sentence? I am reading a section in "The First Five Pages" dealing with sound. I want to make sure I understand this correctly. Would having a couple long sentences being broken up by one short sentence work?



  2. #2
    Cathy C
    Guest

    Re: Sentence length

    I want to make sure I understand this correctly.

    This is a short sentence.

    Am I understanding correctly when it says that, for example, if I have five sentences in a paragraph, they shouldn't all be of the same length?

    This is a long sentence (or, more precisely, a question.)

    Been reading up on writing.

    This is a sentence fragment that I would recommend editing into a short sentence.

    Readers do tend to like varying lengths of sentences in a paragraph, but it's best not to obsess about it. There are beloved books out there with long sweeping sentences (a few literary novels come to mind) and those with mostly short sentences (a few murder mysteries also come to mind). In reality, there are few "rules" about writing. If it works for you, go for it. At the very least, you can give a few things a try to see how they feel for the story.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Diane Snyder-Haug
    Guest

    Re: Sentence length

    Shannon,
    There aren't hard and fast rules on this. Read it out loud to check for "sound". Too many short sentences in row can sound choppy. Too many long sentences can bore you to tears... Yes, you need the variation. But you also need to tell the story. Don't, for example, have all sentences exactly the same length: i.e. "The house was red. The trees were green. The girl was tall." (OK, that sucks but as a example, too many same length sentences sounds boring. Vary your sentence length, long, longer, shorter, short) The shortest is for impact: i.e. "Oh @!#$!" This is just one of those things you learn as you go. I wouldn't analyze it too much, unless you find something you've written doesn't sound "right", then analyze... Otherwise, tell your story and just write! Best to you.

  4. #4
    shannon castleman
    Guest

    Re: Sentence length

    Thanks to both of you. I really appreciate the input. (With two sentences the same length)

  5. #5
    Janine Morton
    Guest

    Re: Sentence length

    Shannon, you might also consider reading your work to another person. During the process, you should "hear" the flow of your words.

  6. #6
    Page Turner
    Guest

    Re: Sentence length

    Hi Shannon
    It might be helpful to think in terms of sentence types rather than length.
    Simple, compound, complex, and mixed..is how I talk to my students about this.
    Simple: John jumped. (subject and verb)
    Compound: John jumped, and Mary ran. (two simples conjoined)
    Complex: Although he was tired, John jumped. (simple plus a dependent clause[extra bit])
    Mixed (compound/complex): Any combination of simples and extra bits.
    Any combination of these sentence types may be used to a desired effect.
    Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    . Castleman
    Guest

    Re: Sentence length

    Thanks, it does.

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