Improving Our Craft

storyAlways on the lookout for ways to get better at what we do, I’ve endeavored a series of posts here that I hope will provide some great insights and thought provocation where our craft is concerned. I recently ran across this gem. How does the old saying go? If the shoe fits … Drink deeply!

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music! The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

H.T. to the late Gary Provost for this wisdom and wit. You can learn more about (and from) the great writing teacher by visiting