Greetings, WG2E folks!
Today, I’m going to talk about something that I see on occasion while editing.
We’re all familiar with urban and suburban sprawl and some of the negative consequences that have followed as a result. There is a similar phenomenon that can crop up in our writing from time to time. I’m talking about sentence sprawl.
Sentence sprawl occurs when a writer strings too many subordinate or coordinate clauses together in one sentence. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, a subordinate clause is one joined by which, that, who or where. A coordinate clause is joined by or, and, or but.
Here’s an example of what we’re talking about.
The meeting had been planned for Wednesday, June 3, but there were some members who were not going to be available, so they rescheduled it for June 15, and then all members would be able to attend.
Okay. I realize that is a bit of an extreme example, but it should effectively get the point across.
Just keep in mind that, with commercial fiction, we’re looking for sentences that lean more toward short and crisp. This isn’t to say you should be afraid to toss in two or even three clauses in a sentence. I just wouldn’t do this sentence after sentence.
It’s best to vary your sentence structure and length as you go along. A manuscript that contained nothing but sentences with a single clause would be utterly unreadable. However, once you get into the rarified air of the fourth clause in a sentence, you’re pushing the envelope.
This is not a big issue with most of the writers that I work with, but I do see it from time to time, so I thought it was worth mentioning, and now I have. See what I did there? I just couldn’t help myself.
Wishing everyone out there in WG2E land a great weekend!