Rambling: best left for the outdoors

Writing tipsWriters shouldn’t ramble. Yet it’s such an easy mistake to make that many writers don’t realise they’re doing it. But your reader will. And soon they’ll feel the constricting effect of your sentences slowly wrapping round them. Bit by bit, your words will weigh the reader down, make them stumble and, eventually, rob them of the will to go on.

How do you know if you’re rambling? Read your work aloud! Struggling for breath and still no full stop in sight? How many words are in your sentences? More than thirty? You’re rambling.

To see how it works, replace the first five full stops in this piece with commas. What do you get? A 59-word sentence that’s like trudging across a muddy field. Instead, follow the one-point-per-sentence rule. Find the place in your sentence where your first point has been fully made and insert a full stop. If needed, use a suitable connective – such as ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘nevertheless’ – to continue with what you were saying. This makes your writing easy to read.

Chris Simms
14 December 2016