Writers 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.
14 December 2016
If your writing is littered with long, complex sentences, try to divide them so they are shorter and clearer.
Finessing an argument and spotting typos need different mindsets. Whether you’re writing an essay or a PhD, you need to be the editor as well as the author.
Students want their text to get to the point, and for their argument to be easy to understand. Their writing needs to be clear and concise.