The Power of a Short Sentence

by caseybedell

The NY Times has a recent piece on “the five-word sentence as the gospel truth” that argues that one should “express your most powerful thought in the shortest sentence.” Clark, the author, ends with a thanksgiving. He writes,

I thank Tom Wolfe for that 1975 lesson on the disproportional power of the short sentence. It stuck. I owe it to him to restore his original context, that writers can use it to give even preposterous statements the ring of truth. The bigot can use it to foment hate. The propagandist can slap it on a bumper sticker. But for the writer with good intent, the short sentence proves a reliable method for delivering the practical truth. With punch.

I think we can all attest to the fact that the best stories, whether written or oral, are those that keep you engaged with little effort.  While a good plot most certainly drives some of that, functionally, it is the method of telling the plot that hooks the reader/listener. Whether we have realized it or not, this is because of the proper use of short sentences. They slow us down, create suspense and keep us wanting to read/listen.

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