Monday, April 17, 2023

How to Write Clear Sentences


If you bring that sentence in for a fitting, I can have it shortened by Wednesday.

Hawkeye, a character in M.A.S.H.

Sentences, the Building Blocks of Clear Writing

That's right, each sentence makes up a paragraph, which creates an idea in the reader's mind.  

Sentences show your reader's insight into a subject they may never have read before.  This is done through your own clear thoughts and ideas put into words.

If what you're thinking isn't that clear it's probably because your mind is clouded over and full of too many things you want to say.  

If you're having problems putting your thoughts down on paper take a look at some of your favourite writers and see how they manage to articulate their thoughts.

It All Starts With a Simple Idea

If you're well is running dry, chances are you're going to struggle to write anything at all.  Sometimes you might find you have many thoughts floating around in your head, but no order to them.

That's why you need to make notes and put them down on paper before you start writing. 

Start by putting your thoughts down as points, one point for every line.  Your ideas will become sentences later on, but the most important thing is to write them all down first.  Some people prefer to write them down, others may prefer to speak them out loud and put them in audio format.  Either way they're the foundation for your writing project later.

Once you've got your thoughts on paper you can start thinking about writing.

Let's take a look at some sentence writing techniques.

Use Passive Voice Sparingly

You've been told that using the passive voice is a no-no, this is because it makes sentences sound clunky, overinflated and too elaborate.  However, this doesn't mean you should leave out the passive voice completely.  To do that would make your sentences look unnatural and poor.  

The More Words the Better

Filling sentences full of words doesn't make a great sentence.  Often less is more, and one word sounds better than using a dozen.  

Make your sentences count by creating them with fewer words, and using words with real meaning.

Make Your Meaning Clear

Selecting the right words is the most important part of writing a sentence.  It enables you to express your thoughts and ideas more succinctly.  Give your reader's clarity every time you write.  Don't have them looking up words every time they read one of your books or articles.

Remove All Superfluous Words

In other words, use one word instead of two. 

Minimise Repetition

Driving home a thought or an idea can be done easily with repeated words and phrasing.  However, if it's not essential don't use it.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Research has shown that some people struggle to read a long sentence, which is why a sentence should contain no more than 25 words at most.  Shorter sentences work better on smaller screens like mobile phones or tablets.  All of these things are worth considering when you start writing.

With that being said, your sentences need some kind of rhythm to stop them sounding flat to the reader.  So mix up your sentences and create a balance of short and long sentences to keep your audience on their toes.

Grammar Isn't Everything

Writing tailored sentences is good but it can also be boring.   People enjoy reading about things that interest them, and don't pay much attention to grammar rules.

Mastering language isn't the be all and end all of writing.  Being able to hold someone's attention long enough to put your thoughts and ideas across is.

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