Writing Great Sentences
Writing Well
• Sentences are the basic
building block of
writing. Good
sentences are the basic
units of good writing.
Represent
• It is important that we
represent ourselves to
the world through
writing that is effective
– clear, precise,
s...
Revelation
• Writing that reveals not
only to others, but to
ourselves.
Sentences
• Our basic unit of
communication is the
sentence.
• How making our
sentences longer or
shorter can make them
mo...
Take Control
• Of building and
trimming our sentences
to improve our writing.
• Style
Francis Christensen
• Cumulative sentences
built by adding modifying
phrases to “kernel’
sentences or base
clauses.
• Comp...
Prose Style
• The dance of language
• Spontaneous
• Creative
• Generative
The Elements of Style
The Elements of Style is
a prescriptive American
English writing style guide in numerous
editions. T...
CIA Loves ‘The Elements of Style’
It’s no secret that the Central Intelligence
Agency values clarity, so it is no wonder
t...
Writing
• Is a purpose-driven
activity
• Pay attention to the
ounces and pounds will
take care of
themselves.
• Pay attent...
Writing Projects
• Autobiography
• Description of
– How you mastered a skill
– Learned a lesson
• Write a profile of
someo...
A Sequence of Words
• This is what I mean
when I call myself a
writer, I construct
sentences.
– Don DeLillo
Sentences Come in All Shapes and
Sizes
• Lots of different things
can make them great:
• Precision and specificity
• Drama...
Thinking about individual sentences
• Not simply as just
another brick in a wall
of words
• Consider the sentence
with the...
Pulitzer Prize winning novelist
• I’m still hoping to write
a great sentence. If I
do, I’ll let you know
– Michael Cunning...
Short sentences
• Jesus wept.
• Shortest verse in the
New Testement
Famous Reply
• Offered by General
Anthony McAuliffe,
acting commander of
the 101st
Airborne, when
the Germans demanded
his...
Short
• Nuts!
How to make sentences longer
• Longer sentences, when
carefully crafted and
tightly controlled, are
essential keys to grea...
Heart of Darkness
• She was savage and
superb, wild-eyed and
magnificent; there was
something ominous and
stately in her d...
Its not how long you make it, but how
you make it long
• More
– Useful information
– Specific detail
– Explanation
• Infor...
Practice, Practice, Practice.
• Practice
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Writing Great Sentences

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Sentences are the basic building blocks of writing and the ideal form to study and practice for developing better writing skills.

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Writing Great Sentences

  1. 1. Writing Great Sentences
  2. 2. Writing Well • Sentences are the basic building block of writing. Good sentences are the basic units of good writing.
  3. 3. Represent • It is important that we represent ourselves to the world through writing that is effective – clear, precise, satisfyingly informative writing that reveals the individuality, sophistication and nuance of our thinking.
  4. 4. Revelation • Writing that reveals not only to others, but to ourselves.
  5. 5. Sentences • Our basic unit of communication is the sentence. • How making our sentences longer or shorter can make them more: – Informative – Effective – Satisfying
  6. 6. Take Control • Of building and trimming our sentences to improve our writing. • Style
  7. 7. Francis Christensen • Cumulative sentences built by adding modifying phrases to “kernel’ sentences or base clauses. • Composition theorist in the 1960s • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PVOiHJn3uA • Jeffery Johnson
  8. 8. Prose Style • The dance of language • Spontaneous • Creative • Generative
  9. 9. The Elements of Style The Elements of Style is a prescriptive American English writing style guide in numerous editions. The original was composed by William Strunk, Jr., in 1918 and published by Harcourt in 1920, comprising eight "elementary rules of usage", ten "elementary principles of composition", "a few matters of form", a list of forty- nine "words and expressions commonly misused", and a list of fifty-seven "words often misspelled". It was much enlarged and revised by E.B. Whitefor publication by Macmillan in 1959. That was the first edition of so-called Strunk & White, which Time magazine named in 2011 one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923
  10. 10. CIA Loves ‘The Elements of Style’ It’s no secret that the Central Intelligence Agency values clarity, so it is no wonder that the federal agency relies on the writing tips from Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style. The CIA gives major props to the classic American writing guide in its own stylistic manual: Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications. The CIA also stresses in the 190-page guide how excessive and flowery language hinders the agency’s ability to protect the nation. "Good intelligence depends in large measure on clear, concise writing,” the foreword states. “The information CIA gathers and the analysis it produces mean little if we cannot convey them effectively.” Indeed.
  11. 11. Writing • Is a purpose-driven activity • Pay attention to the ounces and pounds will take care of themselves. • Pay attention to your sentences, and most other writing problems take care of themselves.
  12. 12. Writing Projects • Autobiography • Description of – How you mastered a skill – Learned a lesson • Write a profile of someone who had a significant impact on your life.
  13. 13. A Sequence of Words • This is what I mean when I call myself a writer, I construct sentences. – Don DeLillo
  14. 14. Sentences Come in All Shapes and Sizes • Lots of different things can make them great: • Precision and specificity • Dramatic impact • Sound • Ways in which they direct the reader’s thinking • Ways in which they reveal the writer’s mind • Logical progression • Imagery
  15. 15. Thinking about individual sentences • Not simply as just another brick in a wall of words • Consider the sentence with the care we bring to poetry • Set out in pursuit of greatness.
  16. 16. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist • I’m still hoping to write a great sentence. If I do, I’ll let you know – Michael Cunningham
  17. 17. Short sentences • Jesus wept. • Shortest verse in the New Testement
  18. 18. Famous Reply • Offered by General Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st Airborne, when the Germans demanded his surrender during the Battle of the Bulge.
  19. 19. Short • Nuts!
  20. 20. How to make sentences longer • Longer sentences, when carefully crafted and tightly controlled, are essential keys to great writing.
  21. 21. Heart of Darkness • She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. – Joseph Conrad
  22. 22. Its not how long you make it, but how you make it long • More – Useful information – Specific detail – Explanation • Informational texture • Propositional content
  23. 23. Practice, Practice, Practice. • Practice

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