Loose sentences on the loose? Here’s what happens when you overuse them in your copies… [Tuesdays: “Write with the Pen of the Masters”]
―a type of sentence in which the main idea is elaborated by a successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases.
The fire alarm rang, making a clanging noise, startling everyone, and causing some to run out of the building.
I saw a flock of geese flying overhead, honking and making their way to the lake.
Arthur made a few discoveries on his archaeological dig, including a piece of pottery and clay tablets.
According to authors William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White in the book, “The Elements of Style,” while loose sentences prevent copy or content from becoming too formal, there’s one rule writers should take note of when using this type of sentence.
What is that?
Avoiding a succession of loose sentences!
Strunk Jr. and White said this type of sentence is common in easy and unstudied writing. A novice writer may even construct a whole paragraph of this kind, using connectives such as and, but, who, which, when, where, and while.
While it’s true that loose sentences create a conversational effect on your readers, including too many of these statements in a single copy is dangerous.
It’s because overusing this type of sentence leads to monotony in writing!
As a writer, you should be mindful about whether or not you’re using a lot of loose sentences in your copies. If you do, try to break them into simpler statements or add variations to your sentences.
Take a look at this paragraph example from Strunk Jr. and White’s book:
The third concert of the subscription series was given last evening, and a large audience was in attendance. Mr. Edward Appleton was the soloist, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra furnished the instrumental music. The former showed himself to be an artist of the first rank, while the latter proved itself fully deserving of its high reputation. The interest aroused by the series has been very gratifying to the Committee, and it is planned to give a similar series annually hereafter. The fourth concert will be given on Tuesday, May 10, when an equally attractive program will be presented.
What did you notice upon reading the paragraph?
Apart from its repetitiveness, the statement above is bland because of the sentences’ mechanical symmetry and singsong. Let’s compare that with an excerpt from the chapter, “What I Believe” in the book, “Two Cheers for Democracy” by English fiction writer E.M. Forster:
I believe in aristocracy, though―if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.
See? The variations in structures of the sentences above make the excerpt more compelling to read.
… and not just that!
Avoiding the excessive use of loose sentences in Forster’s book makes the narrative more persuasive. Read the paragraph examples above again and compare them. Which one do you find more convincing?
We bet you’d choose the excerpt from Forster’s book!
Another disadvantage with overusing this sentence structure is it can be quite easy to lose control of what you’re writing about, especially if you’re not careful.
When that happens, it’s highly likely that your readers will forget your main point once they reach the end of your copy. You wouldn’t want that, right?
If you’ve written a series of loose sentences in a single piece or content, try to alter a few of them to remove the monotony. Turn some into simple sentences, sentences of two clauses joined by a semicolon, or periodic sentences of two clauses―whatever you think best represents the relations of your thoughts or ideas.
[Periodic Sentence: A type of sentence that is the opposite of a loose sentence. Here, the main point is found at the end of a statement instead of at the beginning.]
You may also remove some words, phrases, or sentences that do not add meaning to the main idea. They are just “clutter” and your written output can do without them.
Aside from that, avoid unnecessary adverbs such as in the example below:
Jane shouted loudly.
The adverb “loudly” in the sentence above is unnecessary since “shouted” already means saying something out loud. Removing such adverbs will help make your sentences tighter.
Additionally, avoid using too many “weak verbs” such as is, are, were that signify a passive voice in your writing. Instead, use more definitive verbs that specify action.
Here’s another important thing you should do to improve your writing style and avoid overusing loose sentences:
Keep practicing! Writing takes a lot of practice and developing this skill doesn’t happen overnight.
With consistent effort and patience to improve in this craft, you’ll eventually learn to write in an engaging manner and prevent loose sentences from being “on the loose” or all over your copies.
Apply this tip as you draft your next set of written deliverables!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Write with the Pen of the Masters”
Who doesn’t find content writing to be a skill that requires a lot of practice and effort?
In fact, many people may even find copywriting very intimidating.
However, you can be a good writer as long as you have the right tools. You won’t always get things right the first time, but with enough time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!
When you write a copy for any brand or for your company, your aim is to make an impact and…
…to get people to remember.
Getting people to remember means getting consumers to buy your product or to avail of your service.
And when you get your content to deliver the results you want, THAT is a great copy!
Every Tuesday, we publish content based on tips and insights from the masters of content writing, copywriting, and storytelling.
Become more familiar with ways to write great copy that helps you gain ROI from your efforts, drive profitability, and achieve your business goals.
Learn time-tested tactics that better capture the attention of your target audience, and maximize the benefits of great copywriting.
Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Write with the Pen of the Masters!”
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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