Writing tip of the week by Harriet Castor

by Harriet Castor (Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in the Department of Arts & Cultural Industries)

In last week’s writing tip I talked about the SUBJECT of a sentence, and how the clarity of your writing improves if you introduce the subject early on. (The subject is the person or thing that the sentence is about.) Today I’d like to add that it helps if you can also keep the SUBJECT and MAIN VERB of your sentence close together. (The main verb tells us what the subject is doing).

Look at these examples from Julia Copus’s book, ‘Brilliant Writing Tips for Students’ (published by Palgrave Macmillan):

‘Some students, simply because they feel the need to sound ‘academic’, write unnecessarily complicated sentences.’

Here, there is a big gap between the subject (‘some students’) and the verb (‘write’). The sentence is much easier to read if the subject and the main verb are put close together, like this:

‘Some students write unnecessarily complicated sentences, simply because they feel the need to sound ‘academic’.’

Can you spot examples like this in your own work?

If you’d like to book a confidential one-to-one session with me to work on your writing skills, please email Harriet.Castor@uwe.ac.uk
I’m at Frenchay on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.


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