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The Power of Short Sentences

Jesus wept. The shortest sentence in the Bible. As a pastor’s kid, this is the type of trivia that I know. Although I know I’m not alone, and that one doesn’t have to be a Bibliophile to know this.

The short sentence has power. You couldn’t guess that I know this from my writing though. The readability analysis of my writing is forever telling me that more than 25% of my sentences contain more than 20 words. Like that last one had 22 so I’ve gone long in just the sentence about going long.

The declarative format. No room for ambiguity. Direct and pointed.

War sucks.

Let’s go.

Love wins.

I’m ready.

Children should laugh.

Say more.

Hope rises.

I recently had the honor of talking with Todd Fulginiti on the Sharing the Heart of the Matter podcast about his new album, Jazz on King, volume 1. As he wrote about so well in a recent Wise & Shine post, he’s worked his way to his style. He described it to my co-host, Vicki Atkinson, and me, as “less is more.

I suspect the power of the declarative sentence is similar. Thanks for reading. Peace out.

Speaking of short sentences, “I’m sorry” is one of the most effective when used well. I’ve posted The Art of Apology on my personal blog.

I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog, a great shared blog of personal storytelling with a podcast that highlights inspirational creatives. My book about my journey to find what fueled my dad’s indelible spark and twinkle can be found on Amazon: Finding My Father’s Faith.

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

23 thoughts on “The Power of Short Sentences

  1. Two things I love- two dollar bills and good two word sentences! I know the two dollar bill thing is random but a good two word sentence feels like the writer’s equivalent of a perfect strikeout pitch or a quick, goal scoring wrist shot in hockey- powerful, to the point and effective. 😎. Thanks very much for the shout-out about the album🙂🙏 You rock!

    1. Thanks, Todd.

      I was just going to leave it as that, but I simply can’t do this reply in two words. I love two dollar bills as well. And your analogy with great pitches – so good!

  2. Todd’s point about “less” struck me as a cornerstone of his artistry and musicianship. Knowing when to pare down. Talent…right there…whether with musical notes, words, paint. So good! 🥰

  3. I enjoy how long sentences can weave around. But when several long sentences are in a row, the reading can get tricky and I might lose my place. I also enjoy the impact of short sentences. They can really grab you while reading. Raymond Chandler did that well. Especially in the action scenes, the short sentences make the action easy to follow.

    And I agree with you that “I’m sorry,” as you went into more discussion in your other post, is a powerful sentence. Blaming another person when something goes wrong can be a quick reaction. But it takes an opening up, an honesty, to apologize.

    1. What an insightful comment about the opening up necessary for an apology. I’ve just finished reading “Don’t Lose Your Head” which I enjoyed greatly and it’s funny to consider the art of apology in that context!

  4. Oh, this is good Wynne. Great stuff. First, I did know that “Jesus wept” is the shortest sentence in the Bible. It’s always brought a strong response inside of me. With that information, I guess I should add the John the Apostle to the list of great writers that I should try to mimic. Ha, ha. Secondly, I think we all struggle with longish sentences. It’s so hard to cut. We want to, we try to, but shorter sentences open things up to the reader’s impression. As you mention, though, shorter sentences carry a powerful knock-out punch. Every one of the examples you mention hits home. Wow. Thanks so much for this post. I needed this reminder. Less is more.

  5. “Keep it simple” –
    as one of my counselling therapists frequently told me –
    She was right!
    Thanks for the reminder of ‘short and sweet’ Wynne 😊

  6. When I was studying journalism and had to learn to write Norwegian from scratch as a foreigner I was told to read Donald Duck, because it would teach me how to write short sentences. That became the key for me to learn Norwegian. Great post Wynne.

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