It can be overwhelming at times to try to pick out a good book of writing exercises. More difficult still is getting yourself to actually take the time to sit down and work through the exercises. The Art of Styling Sentences is a book I encountered as an undergraduate student. The variety of sentence patterns provided truly opened my eyes to the power of punctuation. I also later went on to use the patterns as a daily writing exercise in the high school English classes that I taught.
The Art of Styling Sentences
It’s too easy to fall into a writing rut where too many of your sentences start to sound the same. The Art of Styling Sentences by Waddell, Esch, and Walker provides a series of exercises that will guide you through writing sentences that fall into 20 different grammatical patterns. When appropriate, variations are given for some of the patterns, thus allowing for exposure to even more sentence variety.
The Art of Styling Sentences endorses an imitation approach to writing. After providing a grammatical break-down of each pattern’s structure, examples from professional writers follow. Then space is provided for you to complete fill in the blank patterns before finally imitating the style examples with your own original sentences. It does offer light rhetorical guidance of when to use each pattern.
Chapter by Chapter
The first chapter serves as a good refresher course for grammatical concepts that writers don’t consciously think about as they are drafting sentences. The next chapter contains detailed exercises that cover the twenty patterns. Chapter Three provides ideas and examples of how to combine the patterns together for even more variety. Chapter Four focuses on the use of figurative language. Finally, Chapter Five contains longer examples from published writers where the patterns have been labeled in the margins. A helpful punctuation appendix also serves as a good resource for reminders on why we choose various marks to create certain effects.
My first encounter with this book was in a 400-level nonfiction writing course back in my college days. Upon leafing through the book I resented that the professor expected us to complete what amounted to workbook exercises. Once I gave the book a chance, I realized just how stilted some of my writing often sounded. This book will break you of some bad writerly habits and help you be more open to writing sentences outside of your usual comfort zone.
If you want to get started now, you can view the 20 Sentence Patterns reference sheet I made available in another post.
Have you encountered books similar to The Art of Styling Sentences? What are some of your favorite books on writing?
Please share content responsibly by linking back to this post. The book cover image used in this post complies with fair use guidelines.