Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).
TODAY’S TOPIC: SIMPLE SENTENCES
It’s like this: you’re using simple sentences too often. Yeah, they’re easy to write, and yeah, they’re easy to understand, but you’re not in the fourth grade any more. It’s time to level up. The first step is making sure you know what simple sentence actually are. Here’s one:
Here’s another one: Dumbledore dies.
I can keep adding words (“Dumbledore dies a surprising and heartbreaking death in the Harry Potter series.”), but the structure stays the same: simple. You probably use simple sentences when you’re talking, so this structure can be okay for character dialogue as long as you’re not using it too often. Too much simple structure makes your prose read like a primary school report, and we both know you’re better than that.
Take a quick peek at your latest draft. Are you using simple sentences all the time? More than half of the time? More than you think I want you to? Hmm? Hmmmmmm?
Next time I’ll show you some quick ways to grown-up-ify (YES. It’s a word. TRUST ME, I’m your editor!) your sentences. *grin*
FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:
Simple sentences are great for clarifying tough topics and adding variety to your prose, but use them too often and you run the risk of sounding like a tween. You WANT to write about complex ideas and relationships, and simple sentences just can’t hack that sort of depth. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll introduce you to compound and complex sentences—two great ways to change things up and mature your writing.
Further Reading/Sources: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins
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