Avoiding the death sentence
No-one can dispute the power of words, so when you put them together there’s no limit to what words can achieve. Words are the building blocks of sentences which are the foundation of written communications.
You already know how to assemble sentences into paragraphs, but if you want your copy to sing, you have to learn how to write great sentences that will elevate your writing to new levels.
There’s a skill to putting words into sentences that are powerful, engaging and unforgettable. By combining the right words in the right way you can craft sentences with varied meaning and complexity.
Simple sentences have a basic structure. They contain a subject – the person or thing that the sentence is about – a verb which tells you what the subject of the sentence is doing, and an object which is the person or thing that is being acted upon. To increase the complexity of a sentence add in a prepositional phrase which will tell your readers where or when the action is taking place, throw in a few conjunctions like ‘and’ or ‘but’, and spice it up with a couple of adjectives and adverbs.
In a nutshell, sentences are a group of words that make sense together, which can then be woven together to impart information or tell a story. So how do you write sentences that pack a punch? There’s a few simple techniques that can put power into your writing, and sentence you to success.
The best sentences do more than give you the basic information – they turn you on and wake you up and the best way to do this is to use power words that make your reader feel things – good or bad. Power words need a little support and you can enhance your readers’ experience by including adjectives that will help turn each sentence into a vivid word picture by using specific and rich detail to describe what you see in your own mind’s eye.
Make sure your sentences are written in active voice where the subject of your sentence is doing the action. Using passive voice isn’t wrong, and there are instances where it is appropriate but it should be used sparingly.
Good sentences don’t follow a strict pattern and it’s a good idea to vary their length. Sentences that are all the same length may have a steady rhythm but that can lull your readers into sleep.
Make sure your sentences contain no unnecessary words. It’s easy to include words that don’t contribute much. Just like conversations contain a lot of ‘filler’ words, so too can sentences. Look out for redundancy. For example, instead of saying something is shorter in length, just say it’s shorter. Also watch out for modifiers – words that add to or alter the meaning of another word – that seem to amplify what you’re saying but don’t actually add much.
Good writing doesn’t end with good sentences. They need to be connected to each other so the reader wants to keep reading. Each thought must lead naturally to the next. Each sentence must create desire for the next. Otherwise your readers will drift away.