Gary Provost has written an excellent example of good writing. You can use this as a guideline on how to tell better stories. I find myself returning to his words every now and then, to remind me to write and speak more vividly.
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 cresendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals — sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
How To Improve The Rhythm of Your Words
In his example, Gary Provost gives an excellent demonstration of the power of changing rhythms in your writing. How can you apply this to your own writings?
Take a break and then read your copy out loud
- Are your sentences varied in terms of length?
- How do your words sound?
- Is the rhythm of your words pleasant to listen to?
If you find it hard to tell if something is “just not right” yourself, you can read it out loud to someone else. Once you become aware of the subtleties in rhythm that can make or break a sentence or text, you will start noticing it around you. The best writers are those who draw your into their worlds with words. They know what needs to be emphasized. They know when to speak slowly. They know when they need to change pace to create a moment of suspense and raise the readers’ adrenaline levels. Pick your favorite writer and try to unravel why they wrote the words down the way they are.
Once you improve the rhythms of your words, you will find that people become more involved in your stories. You will become better at retelling jokes. No more monotonous presentations, but people will hang on your every word. Your words will come to life. Word.
So keep in mind…
Write with a combination of short, medium and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.