Vary Sentence Lengths to Give Your Paragraphs a Pleasing Rhythm

image by Kaz

Try reading your paragraphs aloud or have your electronic reader read them to you. I like my electronic reader because I catch more problems listening to his monotone diction. I catch repeated words, extra words, misplaced words, and places I need him to pause. But one problem stands out more than these. I realize how off-putting several sentences with the same length sound.

See if you can rewrite the following two paragraphs so they have varied sentence lengths and the reading flows better.

Too Many Short Sentences

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She arrived at Ellington House. She glided into the room. His melancholy took a joyous turn. Her absence had been too long. Her face dimmed in his memory. But her beauty was unsurpassed. He approached her. He kissed her hand. She smiled coyly. His heart melted. He wanted her by his side. He must have her as his wife.

 

Number of words in the sentences: 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 5, 3, 4, 3, 3, 6, 7

Sometimes it may be only a few short sentences in a row within a paragraph that throw the flow off. However, a few short sentences used for emphasis at the end of a paragraph often works. 

Too Many Long Sentences

image by geralt

When she arrived at Ellington House and glided into the room, his melancholy took a joyous turn, making him realize her absence from him had been much too long and had sorely dimmed his memory of her lovely face. But her beauty was unsurpassed, so he approached her with his gaze upon her, and taking her hand, brushed his lips against her skin, eliciting a coy smile from her full lips. His heart, which had hardened to stone over the years, melted like an icicle in early spring, and at that moment, she made him long to have her forever by his side as his beloved wife.

 

Number of words in a sentence: 39, 32, 36

This type of paragraph can become tedious to read.

Varied Sentence Lengths 

When she arrived at Ellington House and glided into the room, his melancholy took a joyous turn. Her absence had been too long, dimming his memory of her face. But her beauty was unsurpassed. He approached her, took her hand, and lifted her fingers to his lips. She returned a coy smile. His stone heart melted like an icicle in spring. At that moment, he determined he must have her forever by his side as his wife.

Number of words in a sentence: 17, 12, 5, 13, 5, 9, 16

Vary the length of sentences to give paragraphs a pleasing tempo. Click to tweet.

How do you check your writing for a readable rhythm?