A full stop is your friend

Today I took a break from proofreading a sports history book to look over a friend’s arts funding application. Once I had managed to crrrrrank my brain out of fast-paced sports writing into rarefied arts-speak (believe me that was tricky) I noticed a similarity in both of the writing styles: the love of the long sentence.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good compound sentence. They can add depth, rhythm and class, but sometimes they can also tangle you up in a knot, as a reader and a writer. I sent my friend off to do some more work with the mantra, ‘a full stop is your friend’ and thought maybe I could share that pearl of wisdom.

So here’s my tip of the day: if you find your fingers hovering indecisively over the keyboard, if you’ve rewritten that sentence countless times and still can’t get it right, if you are stuck beyond stuckness, then maybe the humble full stop can come to your aid. Do those ideas really need to cohabitate in the one sentence, or could they live happily as neighbours? A simple solution is sometimes the best.

Worth a thought.