Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
Three Tips to Improve Your Writing Rhythm > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

Three Tips to Improve Your Writing Rhythm

As a professional copywriter, not only do I do a lot of writing but I also look at a lot of writing. One of the things I've noticed that set the good/great writers from the so-so is rhythm.

What I mean by rhythm is how the writing sounds. The rhythm of the words and sentences. It's a subtle aspect of writing, one not normally talked about, but that doesn't lessen its importance.

Unfortunately, rhythm is also tough to teach (which is probably why it isn't talked about very much). It's something felt deep inside, like it is with music. It isn't as straight forward as pointing out a grammar error. What makes it tougher is that everyone has his/her own style and own unique rhythm. However, these three tips should get you started thinking about your own writing rhythm and how to improve it.

1. Watch out for long sentences. In fact, you might want to consider avoiding them altogether.

There's nothing inherently wrong with long sentences. And there are times where longer sentences are necessary (see next tip -- but note I said longer and not long). The problem is that long sentences have a tendency to turn into flabby sentences.

Think of a sentence as an eel. The longer it gets, the more slippery and elusive it becomes. Long sentences are sentences just waiting to slither far away and completely out of your control.

So what's going on with long sentences? One problem is they're tiring to read. By the time readers reach the end of a long sentence, they've most likely forgotten the subject/verb/point of the sentence. And they're probably too tired or too lazy or too busy to go back to the beginning of the sentence and sort the whole thing out.

Another problem is long sentences lack punctuation. Punctuation is a big part of rhythm. The start and stop of a period. The bated breath of an em-dash. Think of punctuation as your percussion section.

But when you write a long sentence, all you have to work with is the quiet sigh of the unobtrusive comma. Yes, they have their place. But it's a subtler instrument. (Think triangle rather than kettledrum.)

A good rule of thumb is to make sure a single sentence doesn't go over 30 words. If it does, strongly consider breaking it in two. Or three.

2. Vary sentence length. In music, a steady beat is usually a good thing. In writing, it's considered one of the deadly sins. (Okay, not really. But it still isn't good writing.)

If every sentence is the same length, your writing is going to get pretty dull pretty quick. You need short sentences, longer sentences (but not too long) medium length sentences and very short sentences.

How do you know if your sentences are all the same? Does your piece sound monotonous? Are you getting a sing-song voice in your head when you read it? Better take a closer look at those sentence lengths. They're probably all pretty close to being the same.

3. Sentence fragments are a good thing. Forget your fourth-grade English teacher. Forget that obnoxious green line in Microsoft Word telling you your grammar is wrong. In copywriting, as well as in many other forms of writing, sentence fragments are a lifesaver. Those fragments allow you to quickly and easily vary your sentence length. Plus, they can help your writing sound conversational. People talk in sentence fragments. Therefore, reading sentence fragments gives people the impression you're talking to them -- in your own voice and your own style.

So what's a sentence fragment? A sentence that isn't complete. It's missing something -- noun, verb, both. It's not a complete sentence.

Rhythm in writing is much more than just what's going on with your sentences. (Not that we've covered everything that goes wrong with sentences.) But it's a good place to start.

Creativity Exercises -- Get in touch with your writing rhythm

Hearing things out loud is a good way to start getting in touch with your writing rhythm. You may have heard of this technique to find mistakes -- and yes, it's a good way to discover errors. But, this is also an excellent way to start getting to know your own unique rhythm.

Start by reading your own work out loud. If you've never done this before, try not to be too hard on yourself. Chances are you're going to discover all sorts of problems -- including too long sentences and paragraphs where all the sentences are the same length. Make a note of what needs fixing.

Once you fix it, read it out loud again. Then read it the original way. Listen to the difference. Even better, try to feel the difference -- deep inside, in your gut. Our gut is an excellent rhythm sensor.

You should also read out loud things you haven't written. And read a variety of things -- plays, novels, direct mail pieces, newspaper articles, Web sites, poems. Read bad writing and read writing that's so beautiful your knees buckle. Listen to the rhythm while you're reading. How does it make you feel? More importantly, how does it make your gut feel? Your gut will never lie to you -- learn to trust it.

Michele Pariza Wacek owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting, a writing, marketing and creativity agency. She offers two free e-newsletters that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at www.writingusa.com. Copyright 2004 Michele Pariza Wacek

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

UNCW News

Writing the Book: Annual Writers' Week Celebrates Guest Authors of Ecotone Essay Collection
UNCW News
2) is organized around the launch of Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism, an essay collection forthcoming from the creative writing department's award-winning national literary magazine Ecotone, and ...


Washington Post

As Trump administration eyes writing transgender people 'out of existence,' a reckoning for a transgender Republican
Washington Post
Jordan Evans, 27, is a town constable and an elected library trustee in Charlton, Mass. She's a Republican, as are most of the people in her hometown, a rural community where about 54 percent of voters cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. Evans ...
'Transgender' Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump AdministrationNew York Times
Donald Trump to LGBT community: I'm a 'real friend'CNN
Trump Memo Disqualifies Certain Transgender People From Military ServiceNPR

all 600 news articles »

Washington Post

Writing the racy 'Mr. Nice Guy' was a family affair
Washington Post
Jason Feifer and Jennifer Miller published books before and after they met in 2009 on OkCupid. The 38-year-old authors married in 2011 — but it took a lot longer for them to really take the plunge and enter into a writing relationship. Their first ...
Book World: Writing the racy 'Mr. Nice Guy' was a family affairAlton Telegraph

all 2 news articles »

Murakami enjoys writing because he doesn't know the ending
Minneapolis Star Tribune
TOKYO — Haruki Murakami says he enjoys writing novels because he doesn't know how they'll end. The Japanese author behind global best-sellers like his latest, "Killing Commendatore" hosted a special radio show on Sunday. He said he starts writing ...

and more »

bgfalconmedia.com

Youth learn to love writing at library's writing fest
bgfalconmedia.com
Children and adults alike in the Bowling Green area got to show their love for writing in a new event for the town. The Wood County District Public Library hosted a writing festival over the weekend in honor of the National Day on Writing. The day was ...


BBC News

The one writing skill you must master
BBC News
We live in a digital age that likes to pretend that writing is speech. We tap out emails, texts and update our social media profiles in the places – busy commuter trains, cafes and streets – where we also talk. We write as if we were talking. This kind ...


Atlas Obscura

How Writers Map Their Imaginary Worlds
Atlas Obscura
One of life's great treats, for a lover of books (especially fantasy books), is to open a cover to find a map secreted inside and filled with the details of a land about to be discovered. A writer's map hints at a fully imagined world, and at the ...


Bustle

9 Easy National Novel Writing Month Prep Tools For People Who Write "By The Seat Of Their Pants"
Bustle
NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and if you feel woefully under-prepared — or if you're just the type of writer who doesn't prepare much at all — you might be tempted to skip out on all the fun this year. Don't worry! I've got nine easy ...

and more »

Creative Loafing Tampa

A complete list of Tampa Bay's November National Novel Writing Month groups
Creative Loafing Tampa
To the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is an annual event that started when San Francisco freelance writer Chris Baty convinced 20 fellow writers to commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. This year, nearly a half million people worldwide will attempt to ...


Chicago Sun-Times

Parking ticket writing stabilizes; vehicles getting booted drops by 10.5 percent
Chicago Sun-Times
The ward where the greatest number of parking tickets were written was the downtown's 42nd. But, even though parking ticket writing was the same as last year citywide, it increased by a whopping 29.5 percent or 34,791 tickets in the 42nd Ward. The ward ...

Google News

Making Money from Freelance Writing

Making Money from Freelance WritingIt's the question that every aspiring... Read More

Writing and Self-examination

Good writing requires self-examination. Why is one writing? What part... Read More

Pairs/Groups Of Words Often Confused - Part 6 of 6

SALE, SAIL Sale is either offering something for purchase... Read More

Format Each eBook Chapter Before you Write It

Do you have a problem creating a focus in your... Read More

You Can Be An Author

"You should write a book." For years, I had been... Read More

Journaling

How many of you take the time to really write... Read More

The Top Five Writing Mistakes Professionals Make

Yes, you know your subject. You also need to think... Read More

Plotting By Personality - Work With Your Natural Instincts

What's the best way to plot?Quick answer: the best way... Read More

Blank Mind, Blank Screen: Need Ideas!

Q. I'm staring at a blank screen with an equally... Read More

If You Want to Succeed As a Writer, Dont Just Think It, Do It

It never ceases to amaze me when a prospective writer... Read More

The Writing Life

In the 7th grade I wanted to be an architect... Read More

Book Publishing Contracts For Writers: What Should I Look Out For?

Dave, I just got a contract for a book... Read More

8 Great Journaling Tips

Mix a martini, don't forget the olives, or pour yourself... Read More

Writing For the Joy of It

As a child, I loved to write. I can't remember... Read More

How to Outline your Book and Chapters with Mindmapping

Mindmapping is better than linear outlining because authors can use... Read More

How to Have an Effective Writing Group

The works you've written are numerous, ranging from short stories... Read More

Writing Query Letters that Count -- Close the Deal with Your First Letter!

Your query letter can be a deal maker or a... Read More

Mexican Living: Lets Be Perfectly Clear

Readers often send me interesting and exciting e-mails about the... Read More

Making The Time To Write That Novel

Finding the time to write a novel is one of... Read More

How To Break Into Print Publishing

The big question. Do you submit directly to the publishers,... Read More

How to Break In and Succeed as a Screenwriter

Screenwriting is a competitive trade. To distinguish yourself as a... Read More

Learning to Question Your Elephant Child: Who, What, Where, When and Why

Having problems writing? I don't know why. San Francisco Chronicle... Read More

Letter Writing Journaling

When you read a letter from someone, we are immediately... Read More

Under The Leaded Sky in Serbia by dr Mirjana Radovic

When one population in one century survived five wars, two... Read More

Have You Completed A Character Questionnaire?

Creative Writing Tips ?Complete a character questionnaire for each of... Read More