Variety Can Spice up Your Life And Your Writing

We’d soon get bored if we ate the same foods every day or always went to the movies on Friday nights. Even the most delectable dish becomes trite if we are expected to enjoy it on a regular basis.

Variety is what we crave in our diets and our entertainment, and readers are entitled to enjoy a bit of variety in our writing, if we want them to read an entire article or every chapter of a book.

Here are a few ways to bring variety to your writing:

1. Avoid a string of brief and simple sentences.
2. Follow a group of long sentences with a short, two or three word sentence.
3. Replace the usual subject, verb and object or complement sentence by one using an adverb modifier at different spots in a sentence. Each change brings a different emphasis to the sentence. Here’s one example:

“For two consecutive days, the lawyer relentlessly questioned the defendant, despite many objections.
Despite many objections, the lawyer relentlessly questioned the defendant for two consecutive days.
The lawyer, for two consecutive days, relentlessly questioned the defendant, despite many objections.”

4. Invert the normal word order of sentences. You can create different effects by your choice of words. A website called Buzzin notes how poets and song lyricists often change the order of things to create a rhythmic effect, as composer Cole Porter did this with these lyrics:

I’ll sing to him, each spring to him
And long for the day when I’ll cling to him,
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.”

You can see how that last line would have been much weaker if the composer had written “I am bewitched, bothered and bewildered” in the usual subject, verb object/complement form.

Probably the best way to achieve variety in our writing is to write like we talk. Most of us don’t speak our sentences with a subject, verb and object. We talk in fragments, our sentences run on and on, we make statements, we ask questions, we sometimes shout our words — our speech is filled with variety.

When we capture those patterns on paper or on the computer screen, we truly have variety. And readers are more likely to stay with us to find out what we have to say.

© 2009 Laverne Daley

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