Sentence Structure: Mix It Up!

I’ve blogged about different ways to build a sentence, including using commas, colons, and semicolons.  Today, we’re going to look at the benefits of changing sentence structure when you write.

Take a look at the beginning paragraph of your favorite novel.  Odds are, there are many different types of sentences in that one paragraph.  Using the same structure over and over again gets repetitive, and your reader gets bored without knowing why.

There are a few times when it is a good idea to use the same type of sentences, particularly times when the structure aids in developing the quality of the scene.  Many short, simple sentences make a paragraph read really fast, and can also make a reader feel out of breath.

Tom ran and ran.  His goal was just ahead.  Cherie waited on the hill.  He felt his legs tire.  His chest heaved.  Just keep running, he thought.

You can also use a series of long, multi-layered sentences to create an elaborate description.  The elaborate structure mimics the elaborate scene you are describing.

Up ahead, two hawks circled; she turned in their direction and made her way lazily toward them.  When she reached the thermal, she stretched her wings, letting the warm air carry her ever slowly higher, back to the level of the clouds.  As she rose her eyes followed the river, its flow sedate as it neared the coast, as if the water was tired from its reckless headlong rush down from the mountains.  She could see a sparkling swath on the horizon, the ocean turned silver by the sun.

Try mixing up your sentence structure and think about how the way your sentence is put together will make the reader respond to it.  Read it aloud, as well, if you aren’t sure you like it or if you’ve used the right punctuation.  Variation in sentence structure makes for a more interesting read!


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