Style Matters #45: Remember to vary the starting words of your sentences


Writers need to be careful not fall into a simple visual trap when crafting their stories.

That trap awaits writers, especially news writers, who sometimes start a string of sentences with the same word or, perhaps, words that begin with the same letter. This is a fast track to sending readers elsewhere or, worse, to sleep.

Even two adjacent paragraphs starting with the same word will be noticed by some readers. The greater the number of paragraphs or sentences that have the same word at the outset the more readers will be distracted.

Old news hands know that such repetition is overly obvious, even when readers are navigating narrower legs of news copy (where paragraphs typically run to more lines than if they were spread over wider settings).

Experienced writers will realise that a string of sentences – or paragraphs – that begin with the same word can be boring for readers.

But, most of all, it looks like you just didn’t care enough to vary your sentence starts.

Of course, writers may opt to use repetition for emphasis – to underscore points in an argument for instance – but it’s wisest to resist the temptation to do this any more than rarely.


If you like what you’ve read here, you can see reporting4work’s similar posts at Style Matters or connect via Facebook by liking the reporting4work Facebook Page 

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