Balance sentence length

Ideal ratio of long to short sentences?

Is there an ideal ratio of long to short sentences? A tip in John R. Trimble’s Writing with Style  made me ponder this question.

Trimble says:

As a rule of thumb, whenever you’ve written three longish sentences in a row, make your fourth a short one. And don’t fear the super-short sentence. It’s arresting. Sometimes just a single word will be plenty long.

It’s a good idea to vary your sentence length. Same-length sentences—even if they’re short, not long—grow monotonous.

A short sentence—like “it’s arresting” in Trimble’s tip—gives readers a chance to breathe. Be kind to your readers.

 

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