Sentence-Level Style Worksheets (Old to New, Short to Long, Characters and Actions, Topic Strings)


 

In this workshop, writers are asked to identify the most challenging and least challenging paragraphs. This helps to reinforce the idea that style depends on content: in the paragraph with the most challenging content, it's most appropriate to have easily-digested sentences (clear characters and actions, focused topic strings, only a few words before the verb); in the paragraph with the least challenging content, it's more interesting to challenge readers with more complicated style (more abstract characters and actions, mixed topic strings, longer phrases before the verb).
 
Sentence-Level Style
 
Ask the writer of the paper to mark the paragraph that will most challenge readers intellectually, and the paragraph that will least challenge readers.

In those two paragraphs, number each sentence. Circle the grammatical subject(s) and verb(s) in each sentence. Underline the first seven words in each sentence.
 
 
Old to New

Paragraph A

Do the underlined phrases include information that is familiar to readers (either from earlier sentences or paragraphs or from readers' knowledge of the world)?

__________________________________________________________________________

List any sentences that don't include familiar information at the start.




Do the ends of sentences (the last ten words or so) include new, more complicated information?

__________________________________________________________________________

List any sentences that don't end with new information.
 




Paragraph B

Do the underlined phrases include information that is familiar to readers (either from earlier sentences or paragraphs or from readers' knowledge of the world)?

__________________________________________________________________________

List any sentences that don't include familiar information at the start. \





Do the ends of sentences (the last ten words or so) include new, more complicated information?

__________________________________________________________________________

List any sentences that don't end with new information.
 



Short to Long


Paragraph A

How many of the underlined phrases contain a verb? _______

How many verbs are something other than have/has/had/do/does/am/are/is? _______
 

Paragraph B

How many of the underlined phrases contain a verb? _______

How many verbs are something other than have/has/had/do/does/am/are/is? _______
 
Characters and Actions


Paragraph A

What are the main characters of this paragraph? ________________________________

Do they appear as the subjects of sentences? _______

What are the characters doing in this paragraph? ________________________________

Do those actions appear as verbs in the sentences? ______
 

Paragraph B

What are the main characters of this paragraph? ________________________________

Do they appear as the subjects of sentences? _______

What are the characters doing in this paragraph? ________________________________

Do those actions appear as verbs in the sentences? ______
 

Topic Strings:

Paragraph A

___Topic Strings are focused
(The first few words contain similar characters from sentence to sentence within the paragraph.)

___Topic Strings are linked
(Sentences begin with a character from the last few words of the previous sentence.)

___Topic Strings are mixed
(There's no obvious connection between characters in the first few words.)
 

Paragraph B

___Topic Strings are focussed
(The first few words contain similar characters from sentence to sentence within the paragraph.)

___Topic Strings are linked
(Sentences begin with a character from the last few words of the previous sentence.)

___Topic Strings are mixed
(There's no obvious connection between characters in the first few words.)
 

Nominalizations

Paragraph A
List any nominalizations you find.

______________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________

Choose one sentence with a nominalization in it and rewrite it to eliminate the nominalization.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
 

Paragraph B

List any nominalizations you find.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

Choose one sentence with a nominalization in it and rewrite it to eliminate the nominalization.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________