There’s one particular goal that’s common among all writers. They always think of it when the time for New Year resolutions comes. Get better.
That’s the beauty of this profession: it pushes you forward. You can’t stop growing no matter how successful or lousy your previous book was.
Today, we have a slightly unusual method to suggest: sentence combination. You can use it to improve your writing. They tell you to keep it simple. Avoid long sentences, they say. They distract the reader, they say. You know better than that. You know that if all your sentences are brief and of equal length, your content would be boring.
Hemingway, as the epitome of clarity and brevity, is often cited as an example of how powerful language can be when it’s scarce. Well guess what: even his sentences were not that short. So don’t fall for that trick. Do your best to combine sentences to make them more interesting for your readers.
By sentence combining, you’re creating a compound sentence, which consists of two or more independent clauses. The goal is not to produce long sentences. It’s not about showing what an eloquent writer you are. Hold on mister Proust; the readers won’t care about your eloquence. They want you to develop more effective sentences, so you better not waste their time and nerves.
You’re already a writer. We have no business teaching you how to write compound sentences here. We can, however, help you explore combination in a way that improves your writing. These are the secrets that not many successful writers like to reveal:
Put the Drama Somewhere in the Middle
Let’s take a simple example of sentence combining:
Only her closest friends were aware of her struggles. None of them came to support her.
The instinctive way of combining these sentences would be this:
Only her closest friends were aware of her struggles, and none of them came to support her.
That’s okay, but it’s not the best possible combination. The most dramatic part (none of the friends came to support this person), is at the end. Let’s try a different version:
Only her closest friends, none of which came to support her, were aware of her struggles.
Some writers would argue that this revision weakens the impact of the sentence. They like leaving the drama for the end, so they create mini-suspense within a sentence. Hey; it’s your choice. If you ask me, the second version emphasizes the drama and makes the sentence more emotional.
Consider the Main Qualities of a Sentence
You may combine shorter sentences in various ways. This is your chance to express your creativity as a writer. However, you shouldn’t let your combinations affect the main qualities of a sentence. Whenever you’re unsure about a particular compound sentence, check these aspects:
Meaning. Will the sentence convey your clear thoughts? Look; Marcel Proust was a great author. Although his sentences are long and require tons of focus, they still hold their meaning.
Clarity. Can a reader understand this sentence from a single reading? You can’t expect them to go back at it just to get what you want to say.
Cohesion. When you’re combining independent clauses in a single sentence, they should follow a logical flow.
Meaning, clarity, cohesion. Those are the three main elements you have to maintain, no matter how long or short your sentences are. If you’re not sure about this, you can get help by the best essay writing services. I always use NinjaEssays.
Play with the Rhythm
An average student can create compound sentences quite well. They get tested on combining sentences. What sets a great writer’s sentence apart? The rhythm.
When you’re reading a great writer, like Salman Rushdie for example, you get the feeling that his prose is close to poetry. Here’s a quote from his Midnight’s Children, just to prove the point: “Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.”
We don’t see any needless repetition here. Rushdie made his style versatile by combining sentences together. The combination, however, is doe in its unique way. His words swing and swirl. It’s not likely that this kind of writer would get the Dear Author letter with bad news from a publisher.
You never stop experimenting with the sentence. The flow, the style, the length… everything can be altered to a better form. Try improving your writing through combination and see what happens.