I’m always reading about the tyranny of the blank page, the terror of starting something new. But once you’ve got going, when you’re drafting, and especially when you’re editing, the blank page can be your friend. When I can’t see why a paragraph or a sentence isn’t working, I cut and paste it into a new document. There, in isolation, it looks different. I break paragraphs into sentences, listing them one under the other. I take sentences apart too, arranging phrases and clauses in the same way. Often I see repetitions I hadn’t noticed before or it might sound as if there’s repetition when some unintended alliteration is making the sentence clumsy. It’s a good opportunity to read my work aloud. Once I’ve rewritten and reordered the paragraph, I paste the new version back into my draft. Magic.
17 May 2017
In academic English, short sentences and paragraphs are often clearer, more readable and more effective than long ones.
If a paragraph refuses to flow, underline the essential parts that must be included, work out the best order and add only enough words for the paragraph to make sense.
It’s hard to analyse your own writing but there’s a simple, straightforward way to check how your writing will come across.