Presentation on theme: "Sentence Variety Mixing Long and Short Sentences Use a Question, Command, or Exclamation Vary the Beginnings of Sentences."— Presentation transcript:
Sentence Variety Mixing Long and Short Sentences Use a Question, Command, or Exclamation Vary the Beginnings of Sentences
Good Writers Good writers pay attention to sentence variety. They notice how sentences work together within a paragraph and they seek a mix of different sentence lengths and types. Experienced writers have a variety of sentence patterns from which to choose. They try not to overuse one pattern.
Mixing Long and Short Sentences Beginning writers tend to overuse short, simple sentences. Notice the length of the sentences in the following paragraph: (1) There is one positive result of the rising crime rate. (2) This has been the growth of neighborhood crime prevention programs. (3) These programs really work. (4) They teach citizens to patrol their neighborhood. (5) They teach citizens to work with the police. (6) They have dramatically reduced crime in cities and towns across the country. (7) The idea is catching on.
How might it be revised? Now read the revised version. It is not as simplistic and childish due to a variety of sentence lengths: (1) One positive result of the rising crime rate has been the growth of neighborhood crime prevention programs. (2) By teaching citizens to patrol their neighborhoods and to work with the police, they have drastically reduced crime in cities and towns across the country. (4) The idea is catching on. This paragraph is more effective because it mixes up two short sentences, 2 & 4, and two longer sentences, 1 & 3. Although short sentences can be used effectively anywhere in a paragraph, they can be especially effective and useful as introductions or conclusions, such as sentence 4 above. Note the powerful effect of the short sentences between the longer ones in the following paragraph.
(1) I recall being told, when I first moved to Los Angeles and was living on an isolated beach, the the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the bad wind blew. (2) I could see why. (3) The Pacific turned ominously glossy during a Santa Ana period, and one woke in the night troubled not only by the peacocks screaming in the olive trees but by the eerie absence of the moon. (4) The heat was surreal. (5) The sky had a yellow cast, the kind of light sometimes called earthquake weather. (6) My only neighbor would not come out of her house for days, there were no lights at night, and her husband roamed the place with a machete. (7) One day he would tell me that he had heard a by-passer; the next a rattlesnake. Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem Now, lets look at a good example...
Practice with a Partner Revise and rewrite the following paragraph in a variety of sentence lengths. Recombine sentences in any way you wish, but do not alter the meaning of the paragraph. (1) The park is alive with motion today. (2) Joggers pound up and down the boardwalk. (3) Old folks watch them from the benches. (4) Sailors row boats across the lake. (5) The boats are green and wooden. (6) Two teenagers hurl a Frizbee back and forth. (7) They yell and leap. (8) A shaggy white dog dashes in from nowhere. (9) He snatches the red disc in his mouth. (10) He bounds away. (11) The teenagers run after him.
Using a Question, Command, or Exclamation! The most commonly used sentence is the declarative sentence or statement. However, and occasionally carefully placed question, command, or exclamation is an effective way to achieve sentence variety. Using the QUESTION: Why did I become a cab driver? First, I truly enjoy driving a car and exploring different parts of the city, the classy avenues, and the hidden back streets. In addition, I like meeting all kinds of people, from bookmakers to governors, each with his unique story and many willing to talk to the back of my head. Of course, the pay is not bad and the hours are flexible, but it is the places and the people that I love.
The previous paragraph began with a question. The writer does not really expect the reader to answer it. Rather, it is a rhetorical question, one that will be answered by the writer in the course of the paragraph. A rhetorical question used as a topic sentence can provide a colorful change from the usual declarative sentences. Is America really the best-fed nation in the world? What is courage? Why do more people take drugs today than ever before? Think of an intriguing opening sentence for a paragraph and share it with the class.
The Command and the Exclamation! (1) Try to imagine using failure as a description of an animal behavior. (2) Consider a dog barking for fifteen minutes and someone saying, He really isnt very good at barking. I give him a C. (3) How absurd! (4) It is impossible for an animal to fail because there is no provision for evaluating natural behavior. (5) Spiders construct webs, not successful or unsuccessful webs. (6) Cats hunt mice; if they are not successful in one attempt they simply go after another. (7) They dont sit there whining and complaining about the one that got away and have a nervous breakdown because they failed. (8) Natural behavior simply is. (9) Now... Apply the same logic to your own behavior and rid yourself of the fear of failure. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones The paragraph begins and ends with commands. Sentences 1, 2, and 9 address the reader directly and have the implied subject you. Sentences 3 and 8 are exclamations. Be careful with commands, exclamations, and questions. Try them out, but use them, especially the exclamation, sparingly.
Now, its your turn... Write a paragraph that begins with a rhetorical question. Choose one of the questions below or compose your own. Be sure that the body of the paragraph really does answer the question. 1.How has high school changed me? 2.Is marriage worth the risk? 3.Why do I love watching (fill in the blank) on TV? 4.Is anything safe to eat these days? 5.Why do I cheat (or refuse to cheat) at my job (or at school)?
Vary the Beginnings of Sentences Begin with an Adverb Since the first word of many sentences is the subject, one way to achieve sentence variety is by occasionally starting a sentence with a word or words other than the subject. 1 – He laboriously dragged the large crate up the stairs. 2 – Laboriously, he dragged the large crate up the stairs. 1 – The contents of the beaker suddenly began to foam. 2 – Suddenly, the contents of the beaker began to foam. A comma usually follows an adverb that introduces a sentence, however, adverbs of time such as often, now, always, do not require a comma.
Strong verbs It would be misleading to state that style or voice is nothing more than the use of strong verbs. Style is ultimately the reflection in language of your total personality, but the conscious search for vigorous, forceful verbs can be a major step in learning to control language so that it speaks to you and through you. The verb may be the key element in making your writing sound fresh as well as energetic and exact. In the following paragraph by John Steinbeck, almost all the verbs have been left out. Fill in every blank with a strong, vigorous verb. Some of the blanks require present participles. Dont try to guess what verbs Steinbeck might have used; try to come up with your own. Then, compare your choices with the choices of others in the class. If you are like most people, you will find that you overlap with someone else on no more than five or six out of the twenty-two blanks. Selection of the strong verb almost automatically helps you find your own voice.
The sun _____ on the grass and warmed it, and in the shade under the grass the insects _____.... And over the grass at the roadside a land turtle _____, _____ his high-domed shell over the grass. His hard legs and yellow-nailed feet _____ slowly through the grass, not really walking but _____ and _____ his shell along. The barley beards _____ off his shell, and the clover burrs _____ and to the ground. His horney beak _____ partly open, and his fierce, humorous eyes, under brows like fingernails, _____ straight ahead. He _____ over the grass leaving a beaten trail behind him and the hill, which was the highway embankment, _____ up ahead of him. For a moment he stopped, his head held high. He _____ and _____ up and down. At last he started to climb the embankment. Front clawed feet _____ forward but did not touch. The hind feet _____ his shell along, and it _____ on the grass, and on the gravel. As the embankment _____ steeper and steeper the more frantic were the efforts of the land turtle. Pushing hind legs _____ and _____ boosting the shell along, and the horney head _____ as far as the neck could stretch.
Homework Write a paragraph that: 1.Uses a variety of sentence lengths. 2.Makes use of a Command, an Exclamation, and a Question 3.Has at least one sentence that begins with an Adverb. 4.Use as many strong verbs as possible.