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June 17, 2014

3 Reasons You Should Be Using Shorter Sentences

Short sentences really work!

Slow down. Take a deep breath.


This blog is going to be read at your pace. It’s all about short sentences.

Why use them? You are about to find out.

Most people skim read. Think about the last article you read. You probably skim read it. You probably just looked at the headlines and ticked it off your ‘read’ list.

It’s more important than ever to give your audience the best chance of reading your article. Short sentences help. In fact, I’ve done my best to write this in short sentences. It’s tough.

Or is it?

One huge benefit is that your writing has so much more personality. A huge chunk of prose in a massive paragraph just doesn’t have the same appeal as a bunch of tight, short sentences and paragraphs.

Now, you can’t just write everything in short sentences. I appreciate that. Try to do it though. You’ll be pleased with your results.

It is one of the simplest tips I have picked up that has transformed my writing. Whilst I am considered an excellent copywriter (ow that trumpet is loud!), I always thought that when it came to writing “as myself” that something was lacking. Then I discovered short sentences.

I kid you not. The change has been that severe. It has inspired a new level in confidence when it comes to writing.

I’ve got some rules for you to help. Here you go.

1 – Where you would use alternative punctuation, use full stops

“Write like this. You’ll prosper. I promise”

Rather than

“Write like this, you’ll prosper, I promise”

Now. That’s a subtle difference. If you want to be dedicated and make short sentences work, you need to experiment.

2 – Use short sentences with your personal tone for maximum effect

“I’m going out. I’ve got beer. I got an Xbox. I’ve got FIFA.

Who am I kidding? I ain’t going out. I’m going to stay in and play FIFA. Same as always. Why? Because I spend way too much money.”

The dramatic impact of short sentences will help your reader dial into your personal tone. We don’t speak in huge elongated sentences. Most of the time.

Scriptwriters out there will know where I am coming from.

3 – Use short sentences. Create urgency

“Boom. The door opens. No one is here. I’m alone. It’s scary in here. It’s dark. Too dark. It’s complete blackness. I look up. There’s nothing. I pull out my phone. It’s not working. I need help. I need to breathe.”

Whilst this excerpt could be out of a horror book. When you read it, you feel that sense of danger that this character is feeling.

After all, we all know what it’s like when your phone is out of signal.

Adding short sentences to your writing repertoire is highly recommended. It will go against the grain for more seasoned writers and some grammar police will be quick to tell you that you are getting it wrong. The thing is, you want your audience to actually read your content. Sometimes that requires throwing out the rule book.