[Sentence] Variety Is the Spice of Life

 Have you ever read a paragraph of fiction and wondered what was wrong with it? Sometimes, when you can't put your finger on the problem, it may be sentence variety.

Click here for an example of a paragraph full of five-word sentences. Not pretty. Even though the paragraph is grammatically correct, the cadence gets tiring. I decided to check out a few resources to help improve my knowledge of sentence patterns. I don't want to bore my readers!

Dr. Kristi Siegel, of Mount Mary College, explains how to analyze your writing to decide if your sentences are too short, or burdensome.

Patricia Schulyar explains how to begin your sentences in interesting ways, and includes links to more articles on the topic.

This article on sentence patterns, explains the four different kind of sentence structures writers use, so you'll be able to bring in more variety.

The Purdue Writing Lab gives great examples of using both short and long sentences, and varying the way sentences start. They offer 'before and after' revisions.

And last, but not least, consider reading your work out loud, or listening to someone else read it. If your sentences are too similar, you'll notice right away.

How do you check the cadence of your writing?


  1. This is a great post and a super resource! I'm always trying to teach cadence to beginning writers. I'm going to bookmark this post for future reference.
    As far as how I find the right balance, I use my ear. I read everything (fiction, non-fiction, articles, blog posts, etc) out loud before I hit the send button. I've found I catch almost everything this way.

  2. I'm with you, Edie! I catch more things that way. I read aloud, and also have my Kindle or computer read to me. Even though the computer voice doesn't get the inflections, my brain can engage more when I'm not focused on reading. Hope all is well with you!


  3. Awesome list of resources, Debbie. Thanks--again--so much for the great subjects/links you steer us to :-)

  4. Reading out loud is my go to resource. I'm bookmarking this page too. Thanks.

  5. Thanks Kenda and Stacy! Have fun reading out loud!




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