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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Varied sentence structure: Sometimes shorter is better.

Say it in a Word

A common mistake we make as teachers is telling students that every sentence has to be complex or compound... the longer the better. Varied sentence structure will guard against monotony and open the door for greater creativity in writing. Sometimes the most effective sentences are those which got the idea across with only one of two words.
If you were to write the word TROUBLE, what message might you be trying to portray to the reader? Perhaps that something is definitely wrong, and that the characters will be in jeopardy or danger if something doesn't change soon.
Other effective word choices might be Help! Run! or No! You class can brainstorm possibilities in teams, following up by drawing a colored picture of what the one-word sentences might represent. Run could be a person being chased by a villain or animal. Help might be a drawing of someone who is tuck and needs to be rescued.
Allow for some flexibility and creativity from your students, even if some of their one-word sentences seem a little 'out of the box'.
If there is a shriek that begins to rise up within you at the idea of actually accepting or approving a fragment or incomplete thought, you are not alone! A few strategically placed one or two-word sentences here and there, however, add spice and flavor to a composition.
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