The Art of Styling Sentences

Marie Wadell, Robert Esch, Roberta Walker
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Use the patterns of these examples, but not the words.

1.  Compound sentence: semicolon, no conjunction
Use this pattern when you want to place two closely related ideas in the same sentence and don’t want to use a comma and a conjunction.
S + V; connector, S + V   (David worked in a hot room; however, he enjoyed his job.
S + V; S + V, conjunction S + V  (It was snowing outside, and in the building Harold felt safe; he dreaded leaving his shelter for the long, dangerous trip home.)

2.  Compound sentence with elliptical construction
Use this pattern when you want to avoid using the same verb again in the second clause.  A comma takes its place and creates some style.

         S + V + DO or PW; S, DO or PW

3.  Compound sentence with explanatory statement

Use this pattern when you want the second part of a sentence to explain the first part.
General statement or idea:  specific statement or example. (Note the colon.)

4.  A series without the usual conjunction

This pattern creates a definite rhythm that the conjunction usually interrupts.  Making the items in the series parallel adds to the rhythm.
For a variation, use no commas but use a conjunction between the items:
5.  A series of balanced pairs
This pattern creates a definite rhythm.  Use an even number of items and balance these in pairs with a conjunction between each pair.  The items can appear anywhere in the sentence.

It’s amazing how lifeless elements like stone and wood, nails and plaster, glass and metal take on a soul after you turn them into a house. –Jane Porcino
The author knew the distinction between liberals and conservatives, between vampires and vixens, between swashbucklers and the timid, between the exploited and the victimized.
6.  An introductory series of appositives­
Put a dash after the series of nouns that renames another noun in the sentence.
7.  An internal series of appositives or modifiers
A series of appositives or modifiers, a dramatic interruption in a sentence, demands some very definite punctuation, either a pair of dashes or parentheses.  Parentheses imply that the message is less important than the same message when set off by dashes.  In fact, the information in parentheses could even be omitted.
7a.  A variation: a single appositive or a pair
This is a normal appositive or appositive phrase with a concentration on how to punctuate it.  A pair of dashes makes it very dramatic, parentheses make it almost a whisper, and a pair of commas makes it inconspicuously ordinary.
8.  Dependent clauses in a pair or in a series
This pattern has two or more dependent or subordinate clauses with parallel structure that begin or end the sentence.  Use this pattern for special places like at the end of a paragraph to summarize the points you’ve made or in structuring a thesis statement.
9.  Repetition of a key term
Repeating a word exactly or repeating some form of it can create a powerful sentence.  Use a comma or a dash to show you’re about to repeat.
9a. A variation:  same word repeated in parallel structure
Repeating a word used as the same part of speech in several instances is good technique.
10.  Emphatic appositive at end, after a colon
Saving an appositive until the end of the sentence practically shouts for the reader’s attention.
10a.  A variation:  appositive after a dash
There isn’t much difference here except that after a dash there is a very short appositive that demands more attention than one after a colon.

 11.  Interrupting modifier between subject and verb
The interrupting element can be a single word, a pair of adjectives or adverbs, or a phrase.  Punctuation—commas, dashes, or parentheses—determines how strong an interruption you want.
 11a.  A full sentence as interrupting modifier
Use dashes to indicate the interruption is important and parentheses to say it is not.
12.  Introductory or concluding participial phrases
If you don’t know what participial phrases are, consult your text.
13.  A single modifier out of place for emphasis
Adverbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases have their typical, normal positions in a sentence, a place near the word they modify.  Moving them around creates a nice style.
 14.  Prepositional phrase before the subject and verb (or before the verb and subject)
Moving the prepositional phrase away from the word it modifies creates a new style.
This can be augmented if the subject comes after the verb, eliminating the need for a comma.
15.  Object or complement before subject and verb
Place your direct object or predicate noun first and subject and verb second.
 15a.  ­Complete inversion of normal pattern
This pattern can be overused, but it does add a heaping helping of variety.
16.  Paired constructions

Some words work in pairs.  Fill in these blanks after these correlative conjunctions with words of the same type.  You can have independent clauses—subject and verb—or any other parts of speech.  The goal is to make them parallel and, consequently, powerful.  

not only ________________, but also_____________________
just as__________________, so too______________________
the more________________,  the more (or less)___________________
16a.  A paired construction for contrast only
This is a “this, not that” pattern or a “not this but that” construction that shows a contrast, or difference.  A colon makes the contrast more emphatic and dramatic; a comma, less so.
17.  ­ A subordinate noun clause as the subject or object or predicate noun
This is a sophisticated yet common pattern in language.  Remember, the noun clause can begin with who, whom, which, that, what, why, where, when, and how.  The brackets show the noun clauses in the examples; don’t use brackets in your sentences.
 18.  Absolute construction (noun plus participle) anywhere in a sentence
This is a noun plus a participle with no grammatical connection to the sentence except that it modifies the entire sentence, not a single word.  It can provide details or explain a cause or condition.
19.  The short, simple sentence for relief or dramatic effect
Use this pattern to encourage readers to consider the ideas in several long sentences, to summarize what you have just said, or to provide a transition between two ideas.
 19a.  A short question for dramatic effect
A short question can give the reader a wake up call to pause and think.
 20.  The deliberate fragment
The occasional intentional fragment can be a good tool for style.  If you use one, make sure you indicate that it is intentional.

Source:  The New Strategy of Style 

by Winston Weathers and Otis Winchester

These are some additional style sentences.  When notating these, place an N in front of the number.

N 13.  The Negative-Positive Sequence
By phrasing a sentence in a "not this, but that" format, you give the second half special importance and acknowledge the contrary argument .

 N 14.  The Positive-Negative Sequence
By giving the positive first, the negative is stressed.

N 15.  The Antithesis (an-TITH-e-sis)
A balance of opposites can emphasize contrasts.
N 16.  The Antimetabole (an-ti-me-TAB-o-le)

Two elements of a sentence are presented and then reversed (AB BA)

               A                         B            B                                   A

 N 22.  The Anadiplosis (a-na-di-PLO-sis)

This can be achieved by ending one item in a series with the words that begin the next
(AB, BC, CD).

                                    A               B                B                      C                   C
 The effect is slow motion and continuity, continuity and overlapping, overlapping and


N 25.  The Figurative Sentence (Simile)
By comparing an idea with a highly picturable object, person, or event, it becomes imaginable.  Using like or as to compare two things creates a simile.

 N 26.  The Figurative Sentence (Metaphor)
This is basically a simile without like or as.   By being subtler and simply implying the comparison, an implied metaphor is possible.  

N 30.  The Alliterative Sentence--The repeated use of the beginning sounds of words can make a sentence more memorable.  Limit alliterated words or the effect can be comical.  All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain. - Walt Whitman.

N 36.  Hypophora

Unlike a rhetorical question, a hypophora is a question raised by the writer that he or she actually answers.  Raising a question the reader might be considering and answering it in several sentences is a solid writing technique.

N 37.  Procatalepsis
This is a fancy name for anticipating what the other side in a debate/persuasive writing setting would say and shooting them down.

R 1.  Infinitive Phrase Beginning   (The R stands for Roden since this one wasn't in either book.)
The word to plus a verb creates an infinitive.  By including some words that go along with the infinitive, you have an infinitive phrase.  Follow the phrase with a comma.

 R 2.  The Power Sentence: 2 in 1
Use two sentence styles in the same sentence.

R 3  The Power Sentence: 3 in 1

R 4. Appositive Phrase Begins the Sentence
Typically, the appositive with its modifiers comes after the noun it renames.  However, by the careful use of a comma, you can force it to come first.

R5. Chiasmus
Chiasmus might be called "reverse parallelism" since one part of the sentence establishes a pattern and another part follows the pattern but in reverse order.  (It is somewhat similar to the antimetabole but the antimetabole involves the reversal of specific words, but the chiasmus is based on the parts of speech establishing a pattern that is then reversed).

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