3 Advanced Ways to Craft Better Sentences

3 Advanced Ways to Craft Better Sentences

Reader Comments (30)

      • You make an excellent point about the young not getting the training required in school these days to write effectively. Your article and future tips will go a long way in helping me and others improve our communications.

        In my early days of marketing, I wrote every headline, story, press release. When getting started that is what you do. I was fortunate to meet someone that I trusted to edit my writing and found that she consistently improved every piece I wrote and was able to adjust the content to meet the needs of many applications.

        I believe however well your written words have worked thus far, getting a good editor to take a look will result in much better communications. Although you will have to get comfortable with lots of red ink.

  1. Great tips! As our young people learn less and less about good writing in school, we all need to publish and share tips like this in as many forums as possible. (They are also helpful for people who come to English as a second language.)

    Our company writes proposals often have severe page limits. I’ve taught my coworkers: “There’s ALWAYS more room.” But finding space requires ruthless editing — usually along the lines of your “exfoliating” tip above. To wit, your published version of the paragraph above would look like this in my proposal:

    Edith likes Frank’s article idea, but she needs to educate him on Cosmopolitan’s editorial focus. She’ll give him their writer guidelines so his article will match the publication’s tone and style.

    The goal is to cut and rewrite every phrase until you cannot lose any more meaning. If two words or phrases refer to the same object, cut one of them. Lose almost every preposition phrase and use a possessive instead.

    Sometimes this approach offends some writers who feel the editor has intruded on their creative expression or style. But my first journalism writing professing told us to “Never fall in love with anything you write” — meaning that you’ll almost always have an editor whose job is to improve your writing. Most of the time, cutting words also improves legibility and clarity.

    • Thanks for sharing, Bruce!

      What a master job you did editing that paragraph! 🙂

      From my point of view, as the writer, that paragraph was part of a hypothetical situation — so the extra words *felt* like they helped explain the imaginary scenario in more detail. They worked for me within the context of that section of the article.

      But as an editor, I definitely know better than to fall in love with anything I write. 😉

      • “But as an editor, I definitely know better than to fall in love with anything I write.”
        To survive the exfoliating process, writers must have thick skin!

  2. I like to think of a piece of writing like a sculpture:
    1. gather the clay – research;
    2. lump them together – write words and sentences;
    3. allow drying – ruminate; think consciously and unconsciously: let the mind work in the background;
    4. chip away the excess; refine – edit, ruthlessly.

  3. I typically know if my writing is strong or weak.
    I might not always want to admit it to myself when my writing is weak but at the end of the day I always know. When I have to rewrite something, it always leave it for a while and come back to the article or document with new energy.
    Thanks for sharing your advice!

  4. Thanks for the tips. I just started out with my blogging journey so I have so much to learn and practice with my writing skill. This list will definitely help.

  5. Overthinking is a huge obstacle for me. When I write I have to write the whole piece without editing in mind first! The next day or several hours later I come back for the editing.
    I will start off with some tools such as Grammarly to shape the piece into form as I like to call it. Then I will go in sentence by sentence and look for the rough flaws as if I am carving a diamond for a ring. Often times I cannot see all the passive voice sentences that I may have came up with and I will use tools like Yoast Seo to help me locate them.
    At the end of the day when I feel the piece is ready to be placed on the mantel that is my blog, I will have my supporting wife take a look at the content for a final glance.

    I really enjoyed this article as I write about similar strategies in my blog. Keep up the great work it is truly inspiring.


  6. Upon reading your blog, I’ve learned relevant information and techniques to writing better sentences… Sentences that convey… Relate… Engage… You have explained it well by providing us with these tips to give us better insights on how to be a pro crafting our content especially online. Thank you for sharing your insights to us, Stefanie. Happy to hear more from your blogs.

  7. Basically i ain’t a good writer at start and now have been writing for 2 years as of now. i have learn’t many things and you have thrown some solid points about strong and weak sentences.
    Things we will change from weak writing to strong writing when we are skilled on what we write. That’s how i feel.
    solid recommendations is to write regularly.
    Peace \/

  8. I think it is so crucial, where possible, to use an editor. They may pick up on something you just can’t see, thus, improving the standard of your editorial. It is important to find a good relationship with your editor, taking all comments constructively – not personally.

    Stefanie, this was a great article! Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. It’s true that best form of writing is constructing each sentence such that it takes the narration forward. And so is the efficacy of writing simple, crisp sentences to hold the reader’s attention.

  10. Thanks to Chris Lema, I have a new-to-me tool this week. It’s an app that streamlines the process of converting blog posts into video format by use of animated slides.

    How it works?

    A simple cut-and-paste of your post is all it takes for the app to auto-magically format it into slides. Then during the preview the author can tweak the copy, the visuals, and even add a voice over to the final production.

    It doesn’t take long to become a proficient at the technical aspect of this sort of video production. What has sent me down rabbit holes during my test drive this week is the unexpected bonus of the process. It offers a fresh perspective on the original post. Perfect for fine tune editing.

    Before this week, my go-to for that would be reading the piece aloud. Which is now part of the video creation process.

  11. Writing has always been my crutch. I’ve seen beautiful blogs and wondered how people learned to write like that! I’m glad I just stumbled upon this resource here because I’ll learn a lot that I can apply to our Adventure Blog 🙂 Thanks so much!!

  12. A plugin I recently installed has shown me how prone I am to using passive voice. I use passive voice far too much. Any illusion that I am some sort of “god of writing” has been well and truly shattered (it was pretty beaten before then anyway). This is probably a good thing. Now, I am motivated to improve.

    I’m still clueless about things like the passive voice but it looks as if, just by trying to use fewer words, I might crack it.

    As an aside, I’ve never spent so long writing and fine tuning a comment before.

  13. Hi Stephanie,

    Yes, I do the same thing – I verify my words too. But I do mine with mobile phone dictionary. Inappropriate sentence can damage your overall reputation as a writer.

    Thanks for sharing with us.


  14. Simple catchy sentences have always proved to be seductive and emotionally intuitive. Great read here, looking forward to implementing the suggested tips.

  15. I don’t get the American dislike of the passive. It’s never been satisfactorily explained to me (OK, no one has satisfactorily explained it to me). Have you read Geoff Pullum on the subject?

    • I think there are times when the passive voice is the best option. But it often creates a more dull phrase/sentence, and when writers are looking to improve their craft, it can be helpful to pinpoint phrases/sentences that can be reshaped to more effectively engage readers.

      Like most things with writing, it depends on the context. 🙂

      I’ve never read Geoff Pullum’s take on the subject — thanks for the recommendation, Phil. I’ll check it out!

      • I don’t really agree. It’s not hard to think of sentences in which the passive sounds stilted, but then it’s not hard to think of sentences in which the active sounds stilted. If I write “On November 22 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated while being driven through Dealey Plaza in Dallas”, it’s not clear to me how that’s worse than “On November 22 1963, someone assassinated President Kennedy while someone else was driving him through Dealey Plaza in Dallas”.

        Passive constructions are certainly overused (DYSWIDT?) in certain types of dreary official and academic writing, in which we also find excessive nominalisation and other bad habits. But I can’t see any merit in blanket hostility to them. Good writing can’t easily be boiled down (DYSWIDT?) to “Don’t do this; do that.”

  16. Good advice for any writer. The best tip I ever got from a published novelist was to remove as many words as possible. Your advice to use active verbs goes a long way. Even if one doesn’t have “a critical eye,” try to use fewer words. Especially today, short and sweet is the best approach.

  17. I’ve started to write much shorter sentences. I usually know I should be splitting up sentences when I start typing words like “because” “and” or “however”.

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