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Good point.

"The period mark in lieu of all those conjunctions, participial and relative clauses is a splendid antidote. Some of us need to rediscover it."
--page 37, The Associate Press Guide to Newswriting

I have just rediscovered this antidote, and I just wanna say that it's awesome! I have a big problem with writing overly complicated sentences which just go on and on, hardly ever stopping to let the reader catch a breath, and so when I read this, I realized what an incredibly useful tool this would be. (Yes, that sentence was purposely long for demonstration purposes.) With all of the pieces that we've written so far, I've often found myself combining sentences that really don't need to go together. And it's perfectly legal if you use "and" or any number of clauses; don't even get me started on semicolons. But I remembered what we've been saying about keeping sentences short and to the point, so I've just rediscovered periods. I don't know what it is about our tendency to make sentences longer. I think we sometimes believe we sound smarter the longer our sentences are. And certainly you don't want to have all your sentences be short and choppy, as the book points out; you need some variety. Choppy sentences throw readers off just as much as long, verbose sentences. But in general, when you're dealing with readers who don't have a lot of time and just want you get to the point, it's probably best to favor the short over the long, I think.

Comments (1)

I actually have a series of workshops in Basic Comp designed to get students to write longer sentences, but it's not really the length that matters, it's that churning out a lot of repetitive short sentences is an easy way to make progress towards the required minimum word count.

Journalists are very careful about avoiding repetition, so each sentence in a string of short statements will contain a new bit of information, often peppered with random observations (like the age or hometown or physical appearance of someone the story has introduced by name and title).

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