Breathing Life into Sentences.

The issue of sentence construction arises consistently when discussing the development of student writing. Sentences regularly appear in the work of young writers. Sentences that draw frowns on the faces of teachers. -Sentences that lack variety, spark, energy or complexity. The challenge is, how do we support young writers to more consciously construct sentence brimming with energy and intent?
Let's begin by drawing the young writer’s attention to the sentences constructed by mentor authors. Examining closely the work of other writers. Spotlight sentences that reveal possibilities for the developing writer. Encourage them to write in the style of the mentor. Doing this can lead to almost instant improvement in their work. It remains a powerful mechanism for change.

Consider the following actions to Soup Up Sentences:

Draw attention to the way other writers use strong verbs to create vivid images for the reader. Verbs are the muscles of the sentence. They need to know this. Precise, accurate verbs can replace longer inefficient phrases.

Do the same with the precise use of nouns. Nouns that take the reader from the general to the specific. Don’t write dog when you mean Doberman.

Alert students to the careful use of adjectives in their written pieces. -Adjectives that assist the reader to visualize. Think of adjectives in the way that you think of fast food; indulge in them sparingly. Inexperienced writers often throw a collection of adjectives at a subject hoping to impress. It rarely works.

Encourage students to look for alternative ways to say the same thing to avoid monotony. Words and phrases used repeatedly should be identified and weeded out. The exception being where deliberate repetition is used for effect.

Show students how to combine two sentences into one using connectives (conjunctions). Literature abounds with examples. Show them how you use this important information to inform your writing. Sentence combining is a powerful mechanism for improving the flow of writing.

Aim for precision in word choice. Encourage students to search for the word/words that states exactly what they wish to say to the reader.

Check out the way mentors use a variety of sentence beginnings to keep the reader engaged.

Teach the strategy of reading sentences OUT LOUD to ensure they sound right and flow easily from the lips.

Studying sentences closely can make them come to life with the essential energy good writing requires.


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