The chief ingredients of a good essay include not only the content and your arguments, but also the sentence structures and grammar that binds them together and makes the presentation as delightful to the reader, as a good dish is to a connoisseur foodie. A good essay is judged not just by the kind of content you use in the essay but how it is presented to the audience. If you think that minding your P’s and Q’s are not essential as long as you have researched good material, then think again. Your sentence structure, use of grammar and vocabulary.
Acquiring skill in composition involves acquiring control over rhetorical devices setting up a central idea, maintaining this idea throughout the composition, presenting the material in orderly sequence, and so on. Basic to composition skill is control of sentence structure and accuracy in mechanics so that the student writes correctly the first time and does not practice errors.
Control over sentence structure can be exercised by a number of different devices, most of which involve imitation of some kind. We often say that speech should precede composition, that a student should not write patterns that he has not first heard and then practiced orally. But there is a difference in the structures used in speech and in writing. Written patterns are more compactly structured. We might equally well say that the student should not be expected to write grammatical patterns that he has not read.
The person who writes well is usually the one who has read widely and who has heard good oral reading. Though he may not imitate in his writing all of the layers of structure used in any one sentence he has read, he observes through reading what the patterns of the language are. By conscious manipulation of these patterns in writing, he can develop control over their use.
IMPORTANCE OF SENTENCES IN LITERARY WRITING
A hallmark of effective writers is the ability to express the desired message in as few words as possible. Good writers, in other words, use sentences which is straightforward and to-the-point. Consider the following examples importance of sentences in literary writing:
Regardless of the words you use, you must use them accurately. Usage errors can distract readers from your argument. How can you ensure that words are used accurately? Unfortunately, there is no easy way, but there are some solutions. You can revisit a text that uses the word and observe how the word is used in that instance. Additionally, you can consult a dictionary whenever you are uncertain. Be especially careful when using words that are not yet part of your usual vocabulary.
Connotation is the extended or suggested meaning of a word beyond its literal meaning. For example, “flatfoot” and “police detective” are often thought to be synonyms, but they connote very different things: “flatfoot” suggests a plodding, perhaps not very bright cop, while “police detective” suggests an intelligent professional.
Verbs, too, have connotations. For instance, to “suggest” that someone has overlooked a key fact is not the same as to “insinuate” it. To “devote” your time to working on a client’s project is not the same as to “spend” your time on it. The connotations of your words can shape your audience ‘s perception of your argument. For example:
- Our sales team is constantly trying to locate new markets for our various product lines.
- Our sales team is constantly driving to locate new markets for our various product lines.
Writing with variety can make your writing distinctive and interesting. This can be achieved by using varied syntax, or sentence structure. Writing consistently short sentences can make your writing sound choppy. Using longer, more complex sentences can make your writing difficult to read and may bog the reader down. Additionally, sentence structure within a sentence can impact your reader’s response. While you don’t want to use too much variety in your sentences, knowing different ways to structure sentences is important. For example, here are a few different ways to begin your sentences:
- Prepositional phrase: Out of necessity, the nonprofit animal society held its first fundraising event this year.
- Sentence connective: Many organizations struggle with attendance for a new fundraising event. But the nonprofit animal society had tremendous success with their first pet show.
- Appositive: A noted botanist, Jane Doe was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society of America in 2013.
- Adverbial clause: Suddenly, Jane Doe found herself among the most famous botanists of her generation.
Literary writing should demonstrate an understanding of how to write effectively. When done correctly, using short and long sentences that start differently adds professionalism to your writing.
Syntax focuses primarily on sentence structure, while diction concerns the words contained in sentences. In literary writing, choosing the proper words impacts your argument as well as your credibility. Knowing the difference between the denotation, or literal meaning of words, and connotation, or the wide range of thoughts and impressions made by words or phrases, will improve literary writing. You may be unaware of the connotation of some words in addition to their literal meaning. Strengthen your diction by ensuring you know the full range of meaning of the words you use. Avoid overly informal diction as well, as these words are often less specific or simply not appropriate for literary writing.
Writing with variety can aid in developing the appropriate tone and hold your reader’s attention. Tone shows the writer’s attitude towards the subject and the audience. The writer’s tone can influence the reader’s response to the writing. In literary writing, it’s important to maintain an appropriate tone throughout. Writers can do this by paying attention to syntax and diction.
General vs. Specific Words
Almost anything can be described either in general words or in specific ones. General words and specific words are not opposites. General words cover a broader spectrum with a single word than specific words. Specific words narrow the scope of your writing by providing more details. For example, “car” is a general term that could be made more specific by writing “Honda Accord.” Specific words are a subset of general words. You can increase the clarity of your writing by choosing specific words over general words. Specific words help your readers understand precisely what you mean in your writing. Here’s an example of general and specific words in a sentence:
- General: She said, “I don’t want you to go.”
- Specific: She murmured, “I don’t want you to go.”
The words “said” and “murmured” are similar. They both are a form of verbal communication. However, “murmured” gives the sentence a different feeling from “said.” Thus, as a writer, choosing specific words over general words can add description to and change the mood of your writing.
In literary writing, it is important to find a balance between general and specific words. Always using specific terms can overwhelm the reader and detract from your argument. Also, depending on what you are writing, general terms may be more appropriate than specific words. In scientific, technical, and other specialized fields, writers often need to make general points, describe general circumstances, or provide general guidance for action. For example, if you are writing a paper on best practices in business, you may write one of the following sentences:
- In the normal course of procedure, it is advised to avoid modifications in hiring procedures after they have been established.
- Normally, it is best to avoid changing hiring processes after they have been established.
Both of these sentences make the same statement, but they may not both be appropriate for your paper. Writing with precision helps hold your audience’s attention. Making statements too wordy in an argument can be dull for your readers. Think of your audience while writing. Sometimes it is best to keep your writing simple and precise. The more precise your writing is, the easier it will be for your reader to understand your argument. Your objective when choosing words is to blend general and specific words together within your writing when appropriate, ensuring you keep your reader’s attention while conveying your message.
Using the Dictionary and Thesaurus Effectively
Because words can differ depending on their context, it is a good idea to check the definition and spelling of any tricky words in a dictionary.
USES OF SENTENCES IN LITERARY WRITING
- In literary writing, every sentence you write must be grammatically complete.
- A grammatically complete sentence consists of a complete thought, and can makes sense on its own.
- It consists of a subject, a verb, and a complement if required.
- A subject (i.e. a noun phrase, which can be a single word or group of words) tells you who or what the sentence is about.
- A verb(i.e. a verb phrase, which can be a single word or group of words) tells you about the subject.
- A complement(a group of words) provides more information about the verb.
- Example of a complete sentence and its elements: The result of the study confirmed the writer’s hypothesis.
- Many sentences consist of more than one clause; they may contain two or more independent clauses (i.e. clauses that contain the essential information and make sense on their own), or a combination of independent and dependent clauses (i.e. clauses that do not contain essential information, and depend on the main clause to express a complete thought). Examples:
Active and passive sentences in literary writing
- In an active sentence, the subject is the performer of the action.
- In a passive sentence, the subject is the receiver of the action.
- Example of an active sentence and the its passive construction:
Active: The university conducted the study in 2008.
Passive: The study was conducted by the university in 2008.
- The active voice is the way we usually learn to construct sentences in English; it has the advantage of being clear and direct.
- In situations where you want to be less direct and more tactful, you would want to use the passive voice.
- Using the passive voice also allows you to:
- direct the audience to focus on the information or argument being presented, and not on the writer or speaker
- omit any mention of the actor or agent where it is unimportant or unknown
- place certain material at the end of the clause so that it may receive the emphasis of final position.
The use of appropriate sentence in literary writing is a tricky matter because the meaning of words is relative and situational. In other words, words can be interpreted in different ways by different people in different situations. For this reason, it is important to choose language which is as precise and clear as possible. The more precise and clear one’s use of language becomes, the fewer the number of possible interpretations for a message. However, as a literary writer, it is important not only to think about what you say, but how you say it. To communicate effectively, it is not enough to have well organized ideas expressed in complete and coherent sentences and paragraphs. One must also think about the style, tone and clarity of his/her writing, and adapt these elements to the reading audience. Again, analyzing one’s audience and purpose is the key to writing effectiveness. In order to choose the most effective language, the writer must consider the objective of the document, the context in which it is being written, and who will be reading it.
Angela D. (2006); English Grammar: A University Course, 2nd ed. California University press.
Sidney Greenbaum and Gerald Nelson (2002), an Introduction to English Grammar, 2nd ed. Pearson.