Inspiration Engagement Pieces 2018-02-28 00:00

Improve Your Writing Tip #4: Vary your sentence length

Improve your writing

Most great movies have short scenes, long scenes, and a few somewhere in the middle. Likewise, great writing needs short, long, and middle-length sentences. Varying sentence length gives life to your work and takes the rhythm in unexpected directions. On the other hand, passages in which all of the sentences are the same length often feel boring.

For example, let's look at the following passage:

The tree was tall. It had green leaves. The tree also had big roots. The roots looked like fingers.

You still awake? Because sentences like these are sure to put your readers to sleep. Just look at the breakdown of the words in each sentence:

  • Sentence 1: 4 words
  • Sentence 2: 4 words
  • Sentence 3: 6 words
  • Sentence 4: 5 words

Readers might not count the words themselves, but they'll notice the repetition. Instead, try something like this.

The tree was immense. It rose and rose and rose higher still from the forest floor, its top obscured by the mists above. Its leaves were the color of emeralds. Brown roots spread from its base like thick fingers.

Now let's look at those sentence lengths again.

  • Sentence 1: 4 words
  • Sentence 2: 19 words
  • Sentence 3: 7 words
  • Sentence 4: 9 words

With more variation, this previously dull description comes alive.

ProWritingAid will show you visually the length of each sentence. In this way you can easily scan for areas where all the sentences are of similar lengths. Try to vary sentence length to keep your readers' interest.

ProWritingAid also calculates the average sentence length and a sentence variety score. These are checked against our recommended levels and an error is reported if your sentences are too long, too short, or not varied enough.

Try our writing improvement software.

Next improve your writing tip: Improve your Writing Tip #5 - Every writer has a "tell"

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