Too many short simple sentences can make your writing appear unsophisticated and your ideas seem disconnected.
This impression can also be caused by too many sentences in a row that begin with a simple subject. (Notice repeated subjects in choppy examples below, e.g. She took, She had, She... )
SHOW LOGICAL CONNECTIONS BETWEEN IDEAS by using words that show cause and effect such as because, since, and so, and words that show contrast such as but, yet, and although.
She took dance classes. She had no natural grace or sense of rhythm. She eventually gave up the idea of becoming a dancer.
She took dance classes, but she had no natural grace or sense of rhythm, so she eventually gave up the idea of becoming a dancer.
JOIN MULTIPLE ACTIONS BY THE SAME AGENT INTO ONE SENTENCE, by using subordination (phrases beginning with if, when, after, as, etc) and coordination (sentences and phrases joined by conjunctions like and, but, so).
Bears emerge from hibernation in the spring. They wander through wetlands. They feed mainly on grasses.
When bears emerge from hibernation in the spring, they wander through wetlands and feed mainly on grasses.
USE APPOSITIVES (phrases that add information about a noun).
Jesse Ventura has denied an interest in running for the senate. Ventura is the former governor of Minnesota.
Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, has denied an interest in running for the senate.
INTEGRATE MINOR DETAILS. You don’t need a new sentence for each piece of information.
The boy asked his father a question. The boy is five years old. The question was about death.
The five-year-old boy asked his father a question about death.
LEARN TO USE MODIFYING PHRASES EFFECTIVELY (phrases built around an adjective or the participial form of a verb: -ing or -ed/-en).
My aunt is very strict with my cousin. She expects her to study all the time.
My aunt is very strict with my cousin, expecting her to study all the time.
I was exhausted. I stared at the page. I was unable to comprehend a single word.
Exhausted, I stared at the page, unable to comprehend a single word.
NOTE: This kind of phrase must describe a word in the sentence. If it does not, you have what’s called a “dangling modifier,” for example: Exhausted, the page was incomprehensible. (Who is exhausted? Not the page! But the tired person is not part of the sentence.)
TRY STARTING YOUR SENTENCES IN DIFFERENT WAYS, with a simple subject, a prepositional phrase, a dependent clause, a modifying phrase, etc.
- The project was launched last month.
- With little fanfare, the project was launched...
- Once funding was secured, the project was launched...
- Dubbed a pork barrel by the media, the project was launched...
- Don't string together too many clauses—usually no more than three.
- Vary the length of your sentences. Too many long sentences in a row can be just as monotonous as too many short sentences. A short sentence can have great impact if well placed.
Adaptive optics is an electronic feedback mechanism capableof correcting for the distorting effects of the earth'satmosphere It allows much sharper images of astronomical objects. Because of moving pockets of air and changes in temperature, theearth's atmosphere is constantly shimmering. Such shimmeringcauses passing light rays to bend one way then another. Ineffect, the shifting atmosphere acts as a rapidly changing lens. It smears out and defocuses images. In adaptive optics,motorized cushions are placed behind the telescope's secondarymirror. They constantly reshape the mirror's surface tocounteract the defocusing effect of the atmosphere. [choppy]
Adaptive optics is an electronic feedback mechanism capableof correcting for the distorting effects of the earth'satmosphere and thus allowing much sharper images of astronomicalobjects. The earth's atmosphere is constantly shimmering, becauseof moving pockets of air and changes in temperature, and suchshimmering causes passing light rays to bend one way thenanother. In effect, the shifting atmosphere acts as a rapidlychanging lens, smearing out and defocusing images. In adaptiveoptics, motorized cushions are placed behind the telescope'ssecondary mirror and constantly reshape the mirror's surface tocounteract the defocusing effect of the atmosphere. [original]