March 4

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A Reader's Summary of This Blog's Essays on Prose Style

Many thanks to the multi-talented writer and developer Matthew Pennell, who not only read and enjoyed my series on prose style, but who has written a long, single-page summary, in his own words, of the advice of each of the essays.

It’s a remarkable read.

On Sentence Structure

One of the things that I struggle with most in writing, especially when writing fiction, is sentence structure; specifically, not leaning on the same form over and over again. For me, this often takes the form of a prepositional phrase, followed by a subject/verb/object combo and then several run-on clauses. I catch myself doing it too often, and it always makes me dread reading a piece back, hearing the same repetitive rhythms, again and again.

Subject/verb agreement, dependent clauses and sub-clauses, gerund nouns acting as verbs — there’s no doubt that English is complicated. Aside from the indispensable Strunk & White, another resource that I find very useful is a series of blog posts by British writer Daniel Wallace on his site, danieldavidwallace.com. Over the course of eleven essays, he offers specific advice on How To Write Better Sentences.

Since I have often found that writing something down in your own words is an excellent aide memoire — and also because I have a daily word count to hit — I have decided to summarise his advice here, both for my own future reference and for your edification.

Read more of his intriguing blog, here: The Watchmaker Project


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Matthew Pennell, prose style


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