Writing Tips

Sentence Structure

Our best writing tip? Edit for clarity and brevity with WordRake. It’s an automated in-line editor that checks for needless words, cumbersome phrases, clichés, and more.

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Of Lawyers, Sharks, and Hemingway

Appropriate Sentence Length

Ernest Hemingway writing (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

No writer of English has been more infamous for writing short sentences than Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway; yet Hemingway’s shortest novel, The Old Man and the Sea, brims with long, crystalline, evocative strings of words, with a period at the end.

The lesson? Contrary to what writing teachers frequently tell us, don’t worry about the length of your sentences; worry that each word pull its own weight. Whenever someone tells you to write in short, declarative sentences, refer them to this 60-word passage from Hemingway:

The shark’s head was out of water and his back was coming out and the old man could hear the noise of skin and flesh ripping on the big fish when he rammed the harpoon down onto the shark’s head at a spot where the line between his eyes intersected with the line that ran straight back from his nose.

The goal is not to write in short sentences, but to make every word count.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.