Writing Tips - Gary Provost On Sentence Structure
Writing Tips - Gary Provost and Sentence Structure
I was searching online for writing tips the other day and found that someone on Reddit received an email from Amazon that had filler text that was quite interesting and useful. You can find it here.
It is truly an inspiring read, and here it is in plain text:
This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
Amazon did not create this text. It is a famous quote from the legendary copywriter Gary Provost.
Gary Provost, who lived from 1944 to 1995, was a writing instructor and the author of numerous books, including 100 Ways To Improve Your Writing. 100 Ways To Improve Your Writing has a ton of useful writing tips, including the above quote.
Why Varying Sentence Structure Is Important
I won't dig into this quote in too much detail, but I'd like to point out,
as Gary points out at the beginning of this tip, that having every sentence the same length is quite boring and "the ear demands some variety". Varying the length of each sentence can bring the reader through a variety of feelings from rested to energetic to inspired.
Varying the length of each sentence is true whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, biography, or political discourse. We, as writers, must be conscious of keeping the reader interested in the story. Consciously varying the length of sentences will keep the reader from being hypnotized. That is unless, of course, that is what you are trying to accomplish :-).
Gary mentions at the end of this tip that the writer should write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences to create a sound that pleases the reader's ear. He concludes that the writer shouldn't just write words; they should write music.
Inspiring words, indeed!
Now It's Your Turn
While Gary Provost is probably best known for the above quote and I highly recommend reading any of his writing instruction books for tips and inspiration.
Here are three of his books that I recommend. These books should be useful for any writer.
Did you see my recent article Top 10 Writers Productivity Tips For Any Writer? Check it out! and drop a comment or share on Facebook.
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