Sentence structure is a glorious thing. Yet, chances are you don’t consciously think about how to write this or that sentence structure when pounding out a draft. However, revising for style can make your writing truly stand out from someone else who is merely getting the job done. When I’m editing for clients, one of the main reasons the writing falls flat stems from the repetition of sentences that follow the SVO (subject verb object) sentence pattern.
The authors of the hands-on writing book The Art of Styling Sentences (click on the link to read my book review) cover twenty sentence patterns that a writer can use to stylize their writing. It’s out of print, but used copies are readily available. I count this book as single-handedly improving my writing style when it comes to sentence variety and the power of punctuation. Granted, such workbooks do take effort. If you’re not willing to give each pattern a try, the patterns are not going to stick in your mind and become part your arsenal of writing tools. Repetition indeed makes these patterns stuck. If you try one pattern a day and write a few sentences that follow that pattern, you will work your way through them in no time.
The formatting of the 20 Sentence Patterns Reference Sheet doesn’t readily copy and paste into a user-friendly website format, but by clicking on the link provided here you can access the three-page Word document. Feel free to download it for your personal use. Cheat sheets are great, but I highly recommend buying the book if you find my document helpful. Here is a screenshot of how it is formatted:
Once I started to write practice sentences, it was amazing how often I would notice the patterns in whatever reading material I was currently immersed in. So why not take one pattern a day and write 3-5 sentences that imitate its sentence structure? Your sentence structure will thank you for it.
Have you ever worked your way through a book of writing exercises? Were you pleased with the results? What books on writing can you recommend to others?
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.