Created: 09 Mar 2016 at 11:34 AM

Writing effective sentences: long vs. short sentences

Every writer once in while faces the situation, where his tone might be inappropriate. He did his best to use the proper words, he found the interesting information, but the overall image of the writing does not seem to reflect the writer’s original idea. What is the matter? Why could this happen? The reasons for inappropriate tone might be different. Nevertheless, one of the most occurred reasons is the inability of writing effective sentences. Very often inexperienced writers do not recognize the effect of long sentences or the effect of short sentences on the intonation, form and shade of the text. This article will help to understand the possible effects of the lengths of the sentence on the writing.effective sentences writing

What do short sentences do?

In the academic writing or any type of professional writing, it is usually good to stick to a happy medium. Too short sentences sound as if the writer of the paper has insufficient level of language usage and lacks the ability to provide proper linkage words in clause sentences. On the other hand, too long sentences also decrease the quality of the paper. It is difficult to follow the logic and, thus, the flaw of the paper is disrupted. Therefore, the suggestion for academic papers is to use the middle-lengths sentences that reflect the clear logic and do not look deficient.

Nonetheless, when it comes to writing the artistic literature stories, fairy tales, ghost stories or detective stories, the effects of short sentences are hard to overestimate. So, why do writers use short sentences?

  • To create tension

When author starts using short phrases, usually it is a sign that something might happen. So it is a way to create the tension. For example, if the writer depicts the robbery that took place at night, he may write: “It is a deep night. No noises. No sounds. Just a light shade of the moon is seen. No one expects the drama… ” Those short sentences are used to express the tension that is present in the air at the moment preceding the event.

  • To grab the attention of the reader to some detail

When a normal pace of the writing is abrupt by the short sentences, it may be a sign of a significant detail. For instance, “She was walking down the straight pedestrian walk in Manhattan. She was tall, fashionably dressed girl in her twenties. The only detail that could tell about her status was her watch. Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon Baguette. Limited edition. Tourbillon mechanics. 25 carats of diamond.” Here short sentences are used to depict the special features of the detail – the expensive and exclusive watch.

  • To present the sudden events

Another important usage of the short sentences is associated with the out-of-the-blue events or acts. For example, the story tells about the girl who is lost in the forest late at night:

The girl is scared. She rushes without proper direction and tries to keep her tears away. She hopes to find the right way and get out of this terrifying place. Suddenly, she hears the strange noise. Bang! Here I am! She is not alone! Not anymore! It’s a savior! She smiles and cries! She will get out!

  • To summarize the ideas presented in the long paragraph or sentences.

For example, consider this instruction:

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The short sentences at the end are used to summarize the key points of the whole instruction material.


The effect of long sentences in creative writing

Although long sentences have the smell of the old-fashioned 19 century romantic prose, the usage of the long sentences in modern creative writing also has right for a life. Long sentences may be used for several reasons:

  • To develop tension. While a short sentence is the ultimate sign of the tension, long sentences could be used to develop this tension to a point of culmination.

  • To give vivid descriptions. For example, we may use long sentences when depict nature: Autumn came without special invitation, coloring the tress in orange, yellow and red, whispering the cold in our ears and hiding the warm sun rays from our eyes.

  • To investigate the argument, idea or fact thoroughly. For instance, when we write about the nature of the humankind, we may use long sentences: The idea that humankind is inherently good is well supported by the facts that all babies are born sinless and the bad features are acquired during the life. In addition, people are creatures of God and God promotes the goodness, grace and charity, while the sins and crime are perceived as aberrations.

To sum up, we may say that short sentences are usually used to show sudden events, summarize main ideas, or grab the attention of the reader to the detail. On the other hand, long sentences may have good effect when we develop the tension, provide lively descriptions or thorough investigation. So, you may use this knowledge and examples for writing effective sentences in your creative writing, academic papers or hobby-writing.

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