Style Guide 4 Sentence Length by Brandon

Style Guide 4

Sentence structure and flow in Harmonia scene 1 and The Violin scene 3.


A lower order writing concern deals with the sentence level, specific content of a piece of writing. One could isolate this sentence or paragraph from the rest of the story and modify it, as the lower order concern does not look cohesively at the work but rather a small part of the work and the convention put into that part. The convention we will be analyzing is sentence structure, or how each sentence in a paragraph was composed to put forth an idea to the reader.


In this style guide, we will look specifically at sentence length and how the conventional sentence length of 12-16 words (Vincent) verses nonconventional sentence length can be effective in storytelling. We will be looking at two separate paragraphs from Unexpected Love scene 2 and Harmonia scene 1 to see how the sentence structures were composed in length and how the length of the sentences affected the target audience. Both passages had the same target audience, middle school aged children, making the analytical comparison based on how well each tactic worked on the target audience. Throughout this analysis, we will find that writing solely in conventional sentence lengths is not necessarily as an effective tactic in portraying an engaging idea to the target audience, and that by breaking the normal style by using considerably short sentences as well as normal length ones is an effective tactic to engage and hold the reader’s attention.


In Unexpected Love scene 2, the opening paragraph follows the conventional style of using around fourteen words per sentence. This use of this style was effective in creating a visual setup of the scene that was to come, yet it wasn’t the greatest tactic to hold onto the target audience’s attention.


Although using a constant sentence length in every sentence in a paragraph may help with factual memorization, such as in academic nonfiction writing (Vincent), an effective fictional writer is not writing for readers to memorize the content the individual sentence. Academic nonfiction writing should aim for reader fact retention, but storytelling should focus on reader emotion and engagement. Further, each sentence should be tailored towards causing emotion to keep the reader engaged throughout the passage. With the ability to to create variety in sentence length, the writer can create a more engaging passage for the reader. For example, in Harmonia scene one Mr. Roccafella’s part began with two short, three word sentences. These short, choppy sentences beginning the passage were there to serve two purposes. The first was to hook the reader in by giving them a short sentence to begin with, almost as a newspaper article should hook in the reader with a short, engaging sentence to begin with (Hill). This created a more engaging reading experience for the reader which in tern would hold their attention for longer. By being able to grab hold the audience’s attention, the writer could more effectively portray their ideas to the reader.


The second use of breaking the conventional writing style was to create a parallel with the literal theme the passage was discussing. The passage itself was about a railroad company, which figuratively put the idea of trains into the reader’s mind. This tactic of beginning the passage with short sentences and gradually increasing the length created the idea that the passage was picking up in speed, almost like a train. This subtle, yet effective tactic created a parallel with the actual theme of trains, and made the passage more interesting for the reader whether or not they realized that the parallel existed. If the writer only followed the conventional style and made the length of each sentence alike, they would not be able to achieve this dynamic between the sentence length and the text’s theme.


The first of the two tactics looked at to story tell was to hold a constant sentence length to create a rhythm for the reader, which would help them retain more information. The second tactic was to use both short sentences a longer ones to create a more engaging reading experience for the reader. The use of deviation in sentence length served to be the more effective use of storytelling since it was better suited towards the target audience. Both passages looked at, Unexpected Love and Harmonia, are electronically published stories, and their target audience is middle school aged electronic readers. With this in mind, they must be more engaging to their audience’s attention than a print published book, as most online readers at that age will be more distracted from the many forms social media notifications and browser pop ups that come with the convenience of having access to the internet. In this case, the audience is more concerned with attention grabbing tactics such as sentence length deviation in a passage, as it want’t either writer’s purpose to have their audience memorize the story.

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