While working on a draft of book that I wrote some time ago, which I hope will become the final draft, I’ve been focusing on sentence length and sentence readability. This story was written during a phase where I wanted to create more complex and interesting sentence. In some way, this work. In other ways, it left behind sentence that were far too bloated and had too many parts. This wasn’t necessarily a problem when I was only hanging on to the story for my own personal interests, but now I’m thinking about doing something with this story and the quality of the writing is a big factor.
I’ve gone through this process before with another story, where I focused on making the sentences as short as possible, while still retaining their full meaning and purpose. It’s actually a very fun writing exercise and forces you to focus on each individual sentence, rather than reading along in a steady stream and you hunt for mistakes and errors to be corrected. You pick out each sentence and analyse it, look for ways that it can be shortened, written differently, done better. This is actually kind of fun, in that it becomes like a game where you compete against yourself to cut out as many words as possible without losing any meaning. The shorter sentence increase the quality of the writing, too, ensuring that your readers absorb more information and events while actually reading less words. They’ll definitely appreciate you for it.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all your sentence need to be as short as conceivably possible, it’s also important to mix things up. Give your readers a few short, curt sentences that get straight to the point, then give them on longer sentence that really digs into the details of what’s going on. That mix will keep them from falling into a dull rhythm and force them to pay more attention to what’s going on.
And it’s not just about shorter sentences, it’s about digging down to the true meaning and purpose of each sentence. Why does this sentence exist? What purpose does it serve? What information does it give my readers? Why should bother reading it? Ask these questions of every sentence you write, that’s how you get better at writing.