Exercise Calculate Your Average Sentence Length

Take your time as you work with the four concepts described above to improve the drafts. Sentences, you'll recall, should average fewer than fifteen to twenty words. Identify and correct misplaced modifiers and undefined technical terminology. Look for negative sentence constructions or words and rewrite to accentuate the positive. And be certain there's consistency throughout the communication.

Did you make significant changes? Brad did. He said, "I made every one of those errors—and I spotted some other mistakes I'd made, too. I realized I had some sentence fragments, for example, that I hadn't noticed until I focused on the sentences."

The first thing Brad did was calculate his average sentence length. He counted 272 words and eighteen sentences, equaling an average sentence length of fifteen words. "Except," Brad explained, "that that included those sentence fragments. I decided I needed to rewrite the text so there were no fragments first, and then recalculate my average sentence length. While I was doing that, remembering that shorter sentences are always better than longer ones, I tried to tighten up all the sentences. In doing so, I deleted a lot of verbiage." Here's Brad's revision:

Bottom line: Of the three site options, the best choice is Georgia. My analysis used proprietary stochastic simulation techniques. Incorporating data collected from over one hundred sources, from the government and other public sources to interviews, the design of the model required creativity and diligence. To get a fresh view, one of my assistants met with a risk manager with no knowledge of the risks involved in doing business in either Florida or Georgia. All data is tested and proven by fact checkers. Here are answers to three key questions.

Q: What data did you collect?

A: I collected over five hundred separate facts from various data sources.

Q: Why is Georgia a better choice than Florida or Illinois? A: Georgia is a better choice because of my overall analysis; specifically, the very low exposure in areas including weather, transport and available labor make it more attractive. Also, it offers the most positive labor climate of the three alternatives.

Q: What's the most compelling benefit of choosing Georgia? A: Diversification. We are vulnerable to weather or labor unrest or zoning or taxation problems in Florida. If these problems occur in Florida, and we have more than one factory there, it is easy to no doubt see the problem. Both factories are effected, not just one factory. It's easy to understand why some of us lean toward selecting Florida but we should use objective, not subjective, criteria to make the decision. If we do that, we must conclude that the site with the highest profit potential at the lowest risk is Georgia.

Brad found himself correcting several grammatical errors at the same time that he worked to shorten sentences. Brad's latest version dropped from 272 words to 249 words, a reduction of more than 8 percent. There are eighteen sentences. If you divide 272 words by eighteen sentences, you get an average sentence length of a little over fifteen words. Brad said, "That's great."

How about your draft? What's your average sentence length? If it's longer than twenty words, did you rewrite to lower your average?

0 0

Post a comment