Sentence Variation

Ever wonder how some authors create flowing prose? They do it with a variety of sentences having different beginnings, different constructions and different lengths. This does not come naturally to all authors, but the techniques can be learned. Begin by collecting data from your own writing — take a page and make a list of sentence beginnings, length and narrative type. Edit your work as needed: the key is to avoid repetition and introduce variation.

Beginnings

In the book Blade Runner by Phillip K. Dick the author demonstrates a huge variety of sentence beginnings. Do you have this much variety? These examples come from his first page:

  • A merry…
  • Surprised…
  • “You set your…
  • “I’ll reset it…
  • He sealed…
  • “If you…
  • At setting…
  • Friendly, …
  • His irritability…
  • Iran said, “…

Sentence Lengths

The easiest way to obtain a variety of length is to employ more types of sentences (as follows).

Sentence Types

Use a variety different sentence types: Simple, compound, complex and complex-compound.

Narrative Types

Mix dialog, interior monologue, exposition, description and action. Use different colored highlighters to mark the types in your work to confirm you have a balance.

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