The power of words is revealed through well-structured sentences. And well-structured sentences work just like a well-tuned orchestra; resulting in sentence fluency.
Imagine a performance by an orchestra. If only one artist miss a beat or play an irrelevant note, what effect does it have on the ears? Or, in my case, what a torturous effect does it have on my soul! Well, the same happens when a sentence is the mere placement of words, which might absolutely perfect grammatically but still you cannot digest it.
Have you ever come across a heavy description of a person, loaded with an annoying array of adjectives? Doesn’t it make the whole description a sentence full of ‘barbed wires? Without description, the sentence is flat but wrongly used description can make the whole sentence sounds wrong.
The whole function of a sentence is to create a word picture or a symphony. These combination of words are there to enhance the reader’s interest not to make them run away.
Which one of the following examples sound like a good example of sentence fluency:
We were running down the hill and we came across a farmhouse.
Running down the hill, we came to a farmhouse.
The most important building that I have found is the post office.
The most important building in town is the post office.
As you can see, both sets are technically correct but one of them sounds better than the other. Of course, the choice is yours.
Let us check some ways that you can use to create smooth and expressive sentences and achieve sentence fluency.
Create Variety in the Beginnings
Create Variety in the Structure & Length
Read Aloud to Check
Let’s check out some examples:
Create Variety in the Beginnings
This is one of the proven techniques. Do not start your sentences like preschoolers. Those kids are taught to make basic sentences. But why do you have to follow the same extremely basic routine? As I always say, keep your eyes open all the time. Keep reading how authors and professionals use words to create a variety in the beginnings. Such as:
“In rock music, there is a distinct and almost overwhelming beat. No single beat is characteristic of the music today. But each song has an easily recognizable rhythm. As you listen to a song, your foot usually starts to pick up the beat. Before long, your entire body seems to be moving with it. Your head pounds with this beat and there is no room for any thought. Only the surge of music remains a powerful entity.”
See! Not a single sentence in this paragraph has the same beginning.
2. Create Variety in the Structure & Length
Most of the authors have their special style and pattern of writing. But the one that really stands out is the way they create variety in their sentence length and structure.
Consider this paragraph from “The Soloist” by Mark Salzman
“An idea came to me, and I turned off the lights in the studio. In the darkness, I put the cello’s spike into a loose spot on the carpet, tightened the bow, and drew it across the open strings. I took off my shirt and tried it again; it was the first time in my life I’d felt the instrument against my bare chest. I could feel the vibration of the strings travel through the body of the instrument to my own body…”
Do you understand the point here?
3. Read Aloud to Check
Now, this point is very interesting. When you actually read aloud what you have written, you have a completely immersive experience.
Be your own critic and read your piece to yourself to judge if it has ‘sound effects’ like rhyme, rhythm, coherence, and unity. Moreover, take care of the punctuation for a clearer understanding. Do not show off by using the heaviest possible word from the dictionary. Rather aim to be expressive and understandable.
The following passage is from ‘For whom the bell tolls’ by Hemingway:
“How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think than in all other time. I’d like to be an old man to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.”
And in the end, play around with the following set of sentences. Come up with your own musical paragraph by creating sentence fluency.
- I can sleep late Saturday morning.
- My friends and I can visit and run around.
- I can do all kinds of shopping.
- School assignments are due on Monday.
- We usually go for a ride on Sunday afternoons.