Clark: The Power of Short Sentences

Wonderful article for writers in Saturday’s  New York Times – “The Short Sentence as Gospel Truth” by Roy Peter Clark.  While many academic writers (especially new ones) craft complex and often unwieldy sentences in order to demonstrate their command of their material, Clark urges the opposite:

“Express your most powerful thought in the shortest sentence.”

Clark offers advice on the effective placement of short sentences, including ways to blend short and long sentences in a paragraph.   He illustrates his points well with examples from literature.

One very practical lesson that writers can draw from the article is Clark’s approach to mapping a paragraph with a list of the word counts in each sentence. Such a map effectively draws the writer’s attention to issues of monotony and verbosity in his or her writing.

Clark, R. P. (2013, September 7).  The short sentence as gospel truth. The New York Times. Retrieved from