Friday, September 30, 2011

Magical Sentences Come in Many Varieties

Week of September 25—Magical Writing Wizards
Friday, September 30—Magical Sentences Come in Many Varieties

I critique lots of manuscripts. One of the things I often see is a lack of sentence variety. Every sentence looks the same, reads the same, sounds the same. This, of course, is not pleasing to a reader or listener and the lack of sentence variety also often impedes the pace of the story. In my writing camps I try to help student writers learn to identify various kinds of sentence structures authors use, and then I encourage them to do the same in their writing. Let the list below be your beginners guide to sentence variety.

Magical Sentences Come in Many Varieties
Using some sentence variety makes your writing magical, unique, and enjoyable to read. Here are just a few ways to add magical sentence variety.

Sentence Interrupter

Harry Potter is, as many of you know, a sorcerer in training.

Sentence Opener

However, if you have never read a Harry Potter book you might not understand.

Sentence Closer

We all know that J.K. Rowlings is a fabulous author, a real trailblazer.


“If you ask me,” Ms. Moltisanti said, “a better set of books has never been written.”

Titles such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are always in italics.

All Caps

I will soon graduate from the Hogwart School of Magical Scribes. WOO-WHOO!

Thoughtshot in Parentheses

If you think I’m a great writer now (and I know you do) just wait until you see how great I become!

Dash to add details

J.K. Rowling—author of the Harry Potter series—has always loved to write.

Commas in a Series

The Harry Potter series includes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

© Rob Sanders, 2011

It’s Your Turn!
1. I have another revision challenge for you. Pull out your latest piece of writing. Read over it. Are you using a variety of sentence structures? If not, use at least three ideas from the list above to revise your writing to add sentence variety.

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