Practice Sentences with Revision Goals to Reduce Sentence Lengths
Example: The bond markets are in disbelief of the ability of First world countries to maintain this level of debt. (19 words)
What action is hiding in the above sentence? A perfectly strong, active verb has been traded for a weak, dull noun. Let’s break out the culprits—an inactive verb, a “to be” verb, and too many prepositions:
- are in disbelief
- of the ability
- of first world countries
- of debt
First, “level of debt” can easily become “debt level,” which eliminates one prepositional phrase. Second, the verb doubt replaces “are in disbelief” effectively, so we can cut out “of the ability” because that phrase is captured with doubt. Finally, drop the “of” before “First world countries,” and the sentence flows nicely. Also, notice that the subject “The bond markets” is as close as it can be to the verb “doubt” in the revised sentence—that’s efficiency, dudes.
Revision: The bond markets doubt First world countries can maintain this debt level. (12 words)
There’s always one of you…: Is there a difference in meaning between “doubt” and “in disbelief”?
Revise the following sentences using the above example as a model:
- The financial sector of the Charlotte economy mirrors the overall health of the economy as a whole. (17 words, reduce to 6)
- Growth in these two segments are predicted to increase due to the surge of development in the north side of town. (21 words, reduce to 9 or 8)
- This divided direction caused a degree of confusion on my part as to the type and extent of response required. (20 words, reduce to 11 and 5*)
*Hint for #3: Consider creating two sentences (or two independent clauses) for the two main actions; then, determine whether or not you need both sentences (or clauses).
Remember, sentences in the real world do not come with numbers that show excess verbiage. The revision methods in this lesson are only a few strategies for revising your prose, but they are NOT always the best strategies. Contextual factors will govern your writing decisions more than any rules.