Increase the sonic force of your writing

Increase the sonic force of your writing

Sentences that sound better are likely to read better, too. I’ve discovered this by reading my writing out loud. One way to improve their sound is to increase their sonic force, according to Joe Moran in First You Write a Sentence.

Short words boost sonic force

As Moran explains:

A sentence has more sonic force if there are more stressed than unstressed syllables. When we speak, we stress one syllable of each word. Even polysyllabic words stress only one key syllable, so the more long words there are in a sentence, the fewer stresses it has.

Thus, sentences composed of short words have more stresses. That means more sonic force, too.

Cut syllables for more sonic force

“Cut syllables where you can,” advises Moran. For examples of how to do this, see my posts on “Word and phrase substitutions for economical writers” and “More substitutions for economical writers.”

Favor vowels over consonants. “The vowel sound of a syllable is the basic unit of speech. A consonant cannot be fully voiced without it,” says Moran. Good use of short words and varied vowels creates what Moran calls the “chewy vowel music.”

Can you create “chewy vowel music?”


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