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Posted by on Aug 1, 2017

Varying Sentence Structure

Variety in sentence structure is one important ingredient of engaging writing. If your sentences are too similar to each other in length or structure, the result can be a monotonous experience for the reader. You don’t want your audience fighting yawns or drooping eyelids; you want them to be buoyed by the rhythm and vibrant life of your prose. Remember — an interested reader is much more easily persuaded by what she’s reading than a bored reader. There are many ways to add variety to your sentences.

Varying Sentence Length:

  • The easiest, most basic way to add variety and rhythm to your paragraphs is to alternate short and long sentences. Below is an example of a paragraph that doesn’t have enough variety.

“Bill and Nadia lived 800 miles apart from each other. They met on Facebook and started chatting online. Soon they were communicating by phone everyday. They texted each other and talked for hours at night. Eventually Bill drove across two states for his first date with Nadia. The date confirmed all the attraction they had felt. The next week Bill downloaded a transfer application to Nadia’s university.”

  • Here’s a revision of that paragraph that adds the necessary variety:

“Bill and Nadia’s relationship began on Facebook. Though they lived 800 miles apart, they developed such a strong attraction to each other that within a few weeks they were texting constantly and talking for hours on the phone every night. Eventually Bill drove across two states for their first real date. The date was a revelation; it intensified their romance so much that the next week Bill found himself downloading a transfer application to Nadia’s university.”

Learn more…

Did you see the cool semicolon used in the rewrite above? Learn how to (sparingly) use semicolons to subtly draw attention to your writing.

Also see varying sentences at Purdue’s Online Writing Lab.

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