The Well Written Sentence Concision

Aside from being grammatical, a well-written sentence must be clear and interesting. Clarity means that it says to the reader what the writer intended to say; interesting, that it reads well, attracting us by its economy, novelty, sound, and rhythm. To a considerable degree these virtues are a matter of diction, that is, of word choice; and in the section on diction we shall look at them again from that point of view. But they also depend on sentence structure. In this chapter and the next we consider how sentence structure in itself contributes to clarity and interest. It does so by aiming at concision, emphasis, rhythm, and variety.

Concision is brevity relative to purpose. It is not to be confused with absolute brevity. A sentence of seven words is brief; but if the idea can be conveyed with equal clarity in five, the sentence is not concise. On the other hand, a sentence of fifty words is in no sense brief, but it is concise if the point can be made in no fewer words. Observing a few general rules of sentence construction will help you avoid certain kinds of wordiness.

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