Brevity; sentence length

sentence length

Short versus long sentences

Longer sentences can sabotage writing. The inserted information can be an interruption. This happens when the inserted information comes between the subject and the main verb.

Example: John, who works in retail, killed the man.

Another problem with longer sentences is that the extra words can have a diluting effect.

Example: John killed him even though he didn’t want to because Robert gave him no choice.

Example: John killed him. He didn’t want to. Robert gave him no choice.

So when to keep it short and when it make it lengthy? Brevity is a tool. Use it when it is a conscious choice. Remove redundant information that weakens the sentence and the main message it conveys.

Example: Job hunters read and hear it all the time that: it’s not always enough simply to be qualified for a job. Because if other qualified candidates are pursuing and competing for the same vacancy, how well you need to distinguish yourself from the competition is also critical to getting hired.

The number of elements and their effect

1) Naming one thing declares one thing. Use it for emphasis and power.

2) Naming two things compares one to the other.

3) Naming three things is to triangulate them, using the magic of three. Can also be used to establish pattern.

4) Four or more and all the magic is gone. You’ve created a list, you’re doing inventory, you’re boring the fuck out of your reader.

Clark, R. P. (2006) Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies For Every Writing.