As promised, today we get to look at short sentences. Hurray! See? Short. What makes up a short sentence…well besides the obvious requirement of brevity? Let’s take a look.
The picture speaks a thousand words. Unlike a long sentence that keeps you moving, never allowing you to really stop and digest what has just happened, the short sentence does just the opposite. It’s a punch. It makes you stop and take in what has just happened. The short sentence has a power to it, one that can’t be underestimated. Let’s look at an example. “John wept.” Two words, not much to read, but boy does it say a lot. You don’t need to describe tears running down his face or the emotion he is feeling, those two words summed up everything.
But, short sentences, much like long ones, can’t live on their own. Long and short sentences need each other. I’m going to take the example from before, mesh it together with a new one, and I think you’ll see why. “Ducks quacked, pigeons bobbed their heads, pecking out stray pieces of bread, sparrows swayed in the branches and chirped to the rhythm of a distant saxophone. An old man, back bent, hand trembling, walked to the pond and threw pieces of bread for the ducks. John watched the ducks swim away, watched the old man’s legs shake, watched his cane rattle, watched him turn and shuffle to a bench. John wept.” Not the best example, obviously combining two sentences that weren’t meant to be together isn’t going to turn out well, but I think it still demonstrates how long and short sentences interact.
That being said, don’t forget the medium length sentences (don’t worry, there won’t be a post on those). They should be the foundation of any writing. The short and long sentences are there to help stop the piece from turning monotonous, and while they can be amazing, they shouldn’t be the main focus. So next time you are reading or writing, look out for those long sentences. Find the short ones. It’ll make everything a little more enjoyable.