11/4/2019 0 Comments
A piece of good writing holds your attention. You could say it enchants you. Each word flows into the next, allowing the ideas to enter your consciousness with ease. You become so absorbed you forget everything around you. It’s a kind of magic.
You’ve probably also experienced the opposite. A bad piece of writing stops you from entering that trance-like state. It lacks flow. There is no rhythm. You can’t get into it. It reads like a first draft. The words are out of place. Meaning gets lost because you keep getting booted out of a state of understanding so often you have to reread and can’t ever really gather enough information to actually understand the ideas being presented by the writer.
The above paragraph is an example of what doesn’t work. Too many short sentences strung together and then one overly long one leaves you wondering what you just read.
How do you create and enchanting rhythm with your words?
Vary Sentence Length
One of the ways is to have a balance between long and short sentences. Short sentences help you make a strong point as well as give the reader space to breathe. Longer sentences allow you to expound on an idea more fully and help your reader absorb your point.
We can visually see how long or short a sentence is, but the best way to test the flow of a paragraph is to read it out loud. You will immediately know what works and what doesn’t.
Vary the Length of Paragraphs
Online writing uses very short paragraphs and too many of them in my opinion. I know it’s being written that way because people scan more than read online. But not all of us do, and you don’t want to write a book that way.
One sentence paragraphs are okay here and there but shouldn’t make up the bulk of any particular piece.
The best thing to do is vary the length of paragraphs like you do sentences within paragraphs. It’s a kind of breathing in and out, the short and long of it. Reading, just like speaking, needs pauses, quick points and longer parts that allow us to fully enter a piece of writing.
There’s nothing like a blunderingly (see what I did?) placed word to pull your attention away from the words you’re reading. Some words are jarring in sound. Some may not hold the right meaning. Unless you have an intended purpose for an ill-fitting word or you mean to shock your reader, choose words that flow with the piece in both sound and meaning.
We are naturally drawn to that which is rhythmic. Rhythm lives within us. Our bodies have systems with their own cadence and pulse, and they all work together in perfect harmony. We also live in a world ruled by the cycles of nature’s seasons and phases of the moon.
To write with rhythm we need only tap into the flow that already exists. Take a few moments before you begin writing to follow your breath or feel your heartbeat. Catch the rhythm within and your words will flow more naturally.
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