Let’s face it: Consumers don’t want to be confronted with dense walls of text each time they open an article. Short, easy-to-digest sentences/paragraphs are an essential part of producing consumable writing for the modern audience.
What makes short sentences and punchy paragraphs so essential? How do you master these styles of writing? How will these forms of concise writing benefit your brand, business, or blog?
Why write shorter sentences/paragraphs?
Here’s the truth: long paragraphs are boring, and, at times, can be confusing.
Thick walls of text create a barrier between you and your consumer. If a reader doesn’t enjoy or understand what they’re reading, they aren’t likely to get much out of your post.
In addition, most readers aren’t going to fully read a text. This is true for any post, whether it appears dense or not. The Internet is full of scanners, not deep readers. Lengthy paragraphs aren’t worth the average consumer’s time.
Another downside to longer prose?
The point of your post can get lost in lengthier bodies of text. Why would a consumer piece through excessive and unnecessary information when they could more easily acquire the same info elsewhere?
This is where concise writing comes in.
Short chunks of writing convey your point with more strength than convoluted, lengthy prose. They help you avoid the consequences of overwriting.
Shorter sentences/paragraphs tend to have a stronger effect, contain fewer errors, and encourage consumers to keep reading.
How To Write Shorter Paragraphs Effectively
Fortunately, ensuring that your paragraph length is thoughtful and effective isn’t rocket science. You want to aim to create short yet informative sections of text that both capture and maintain your audience’s attention.
What does this look like?
Implementing effective paragraph length tactics may mean starting a new paragraph every three to four lines. This could also mean splitting a singular sentence apart from a paragraph after stating an important point to ensure that your audience can chew it up.
There is no “standard” length rule you must go by. Some people prefer single-sentence paragraphs when stating essential information. Others prefer three or four line-sentence paragraphs no matter what info is being presented.
But here’s the thing…
You don’t want to go too far with the practice of producing short paragraphs. This is to say: not every point needs to stand alone.
Prose that is made up of nothing but single-sentence sections is harsh on the eyes and makes an article difficult to digest.
In addition, a couple of lengthier paragraphs won’t sink your article, so long as they’re used purposefully. If you’re formulating a list or a collection of bullet points, the resulting paragraph is guaranteed to be longer.
Striking a balance between single-line, short, and semi-short paragraphs will make for a cohesive, informative, and memorable read.
How To Approach Short Sentences
Short sentences might be even more crucial than short paragraphs. While short paragraphs help hook readers, short sentences are what keeps them engaged.
The length of your sentences can float or sink your prose. A concise presentation of information appeals to the average consumer more than dense, rambling lines of text. Would you rather read an eight-word sentence or a twenty-word sentence?
How do you formulate shorter sentences?
Identify the point of each sentence you write and only write to that point before inserting a period. Begin a new thought with a new sentence. Allow each bit of information to have its own breathing room.
Let’s test this theory out with this gargantuan sentence: “You can’t succeed in blog writing unless you are willing to learn to use keywords and develop the ability to use them effectively.”
Let’s break it down
This chunk of information highlights two points: learning to use keywords and using keywords effectively. Let’s split it up.
“You can’t succeed in blog writing unless you are willing to learn to use keywords. You must also develop the ability to use them effectively.”
Now we’ve got two sentences, but they’re both too long. How can we make them more concise?
Let’s remove the unnecessary and redundant words. The lines “you are willing to learn to” and “develop the ability” don’t contribute to the text, so we’ll remove them:
“You can’t succeed in blog writing unless you use keywords. You must also be able to use them effectively.”
Lastly, if you want to further consolidate your point, these two sentences (now much shorter than before) could be combined:
“You can’t succeed in blog writing unless you use keywords effectively.”
See how we turned a twenty-three-word sentence into an eleven-word sentence?
Other Ways to Attack Shorter Sentences
Eliminate adverbs. ADVERBless is a great, free tool to help you eliminate unnecessary adverbs in your prose. You’re probably using far more than you think!
Use engaging fragments. This is especially true when it comes to Calls to Action (CTAs). Sentences such as “Another downside to longer prose?” are technically fragments. However, they function within a post/article by moving the reader along to the next chunk of information.
What’s the catch?
Remember, shorter sentences still need to follow basic grammar rules when it comes to verbs, nouns, and clauses. Even fragments need to have the ability to stand alone and make sense in the context of your prose.
A misused fragment may look like this: “As I was saying. Keywords are important.”
“As I was saying” doesn’t support itself. Therefore, it is not an effective fragment.
Short sentences and punchy paragraphs are a way to make your writing more accessible to modern consumers.
Being tactical with paragraph breaks, cutting out inessential words, and properly utilizing fragments can help you effectively shorten your text.
Do you have any tips for mastering shorter paragraphs? What about cutting down on sentence length? Let us know in the comments below!