Play with Your Words #14—Sentence Fluency/Pacing

Pacing and flow are important in writing, particularly in fiction writing.

For this week’s Play with Your Words exercise, you will need to look at a work of fiction you have recently read.

Find a passage in the story where there was lots of excitement and action. Select one half to one full-page from this section and do a sentence length analysis. Count up the number of words in each sentence and list them.

For example:

  • Sentence 1: ___ words
  • Sentence 2: ___ words
  • Sentence 3: ___ words
  • Sentence 4: ___ words
  • Sentence 5: ___ words
  • Sentence 6: ___ words
  • Sentence 7; ___ words
  • Sentence 8: ___ words

Add up the total number of words. Then divide the total number of words by the number of sentences you analyzed. In my example, that would be: total number of words divided by 8.

On average, how many words per sentence did the author use in this active, exciting part of the story?

Now select a peaceful, calm part of the story and count up the sentence lengths for about one half or one page. Total the number of words and divide by the number of sentences for the average number of words per sentence.

What kind of scene used the shorter length sentences?

What kind of scene used longer sentences?

Write two scenes, at least ten sentences in length, using what you now know to create one active and exciting scene and one peaceful scene.

Share your results with your writing friends or family. Remember to let each other know what you liked in their work.

I’d love to see some of your scenes as comments here! Happy Writing!