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May 4, 2016 / catherinebwrites




At this point in the editing it helps to read each sentence OUT LOUD.   Silent reading allows you to read what you THINK you wrote.   Saying it our loud helps you

  • Read what you actually wrote
  • Identify mistakes, gramatical, repititions, typos etc.
  • Identify unnecessary words, phrases and information
  • Hear  the rhythm.
  • Judge the length.
  • Read your revisions OUT LOUD.


Why rhythm?   Isn’t that just for poetry?

Well no… the rhythm and length of a sentence or paragraph should serve the whole.  If you watch a quiz show where they give a choice of answers, the correct answer is, almost always, the one that scans best.   The one that has a rhythm, the one that trips easily off the tongue!   Rhythm contains information.   It can help create the idea of speed, anticipation, fear, laziness etc.etc.etc.   And it is  fun to play with while discovering the rhythm that best suits your purpose.   So look for a rhythm that:

  • Is pleasing to your ear
  • Reflects the nature of the character you’re describing
  • Reflects the speech patterns of the character
  • Reflects the scene you are describing
  • Reflects the passage of time.

This may seem pernickity  but, when your writing has the right rhythm, it conveys more information and is easier to read.


Your sentence can be any length you like. I once read a sentence by Marguerite Yourcenar (Memoirs of Hadrian) which went on for an entire page.  But I never once got confused.   Not many of us could carry that one off!   So check your sentences to see if the length promotes clarity.


  • One thought per sentence.
  • An average of twenty – thirty words per sentence.
  • Length of sentence can to reflect what you describe. e.g short suggests excitement, fear, anticipation, drama.   Long suggest passage of time, calm, relaxation, boredom etc.

The same principles apply to paragraph length.

  • One idea per paragraph.
  • No more than six to eight sentences per paragraph.

Remember  – These are only rules of thumb.   You must be the final judge.




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