Further Possibilities

The activities in this section will give you more practice with the constructions and processes you've been working with. They ask you to draw upon what you've been learning about sentence structure and to use that knowledge to make decisions about stylistic effectiveness. The goal is to become more aware of the options available and to make effective choices among them. In the end you'll be more nearly able to say exactly what you want to say in precisely the way you want to say it.

Activities

3.20 Read the following groups of sentences carefully, paying particular attention to their construction. When you've finished, look back over the sentences and decide which one you think is most effective. Then find the one you think is least effective. Be prepared to explain your choices.

The goal is to become more aware of the options available and to make effective choices among them.

A. Most Effective ___ Least Effective ___

1. Maria, annoyed by her father's suggestion that she hadn't studied enough, argued that she had over studied for the test.

2. Annoyed by her father's suggestion that she hadn't studied enough, Maria argued that she had over studied for the test.

3. Maria argued that she had over studied for the test, annoyed by her father's suggestion that she hadn't studied enough.

4. Maria, whose father's suggestion that she hadn't studied enough annoyed her, argued that she had over studied for the test.

5. Arguing that she had over studied for the test, Maria was annoyed by her father's suggestion that she hadn't studied enough.

B. Most Effective ___ Least Effective ___

1. Berra peeled off his face mask and, wiping the sweat from his forehead, walked slowly toward the shower after the last out of the last game of what had turned out to be a dismal season.

2. After the last out of the last game of what had turned out to be a dismal season, Berra peeled off his face mask and, wiping the sweat from his forehead, walked slowly toward the shower.

3. Berra, peeling off his face mask and wiping the sweat from his forehead after the last out of the last game of what had turned out to be a dismal season, walked slowly toward the shower.

4. Peeling off his face mask and wiping the sweat from his forehead, Berra walked slowly toward the shower after the last out of the last game of what had turned out to be a dismal season.

5. Berra walked slowly toward the shower after the last out of the last game of what had turned out to be a dismal season wiping the sweat from his forehead and peeling off his face mask.

C. Most Effective ___ Least Effective ___

1. Doubtful that it would become permanent now that it had finally been arranged, both sides were anxious that the cease-fire should hold.

2. Having fully arranged the cease-fire, both sides were anxious that it should hold but doubtful that it would become permanent.

3. The cease-fire, with both sides doubtful that it would become permanent but anxious that it should hold, had now finally been arranged.

4. Now that the cease-fire had finally been arranged, both sides were anxious that it should hold but doubtful that it would become permanent.

5. With both sides anxious that it should hold but doubtful that it would become permanent, a cease-fire had finally been arranged.

D. Most Effective ___ Least Effective ___

1. The best tomatoes to plant in this area are Jet Star, a hardy variety that thrives in our arid climate, or Avalanche, a new hybrid that looks promising, developed by university researchers.

2. In this area the following to kinds of tomatoes are the best to plant: Jet Star, a hardy variety that thrives in our arid climate, and Avalanche, a promising new hybrid recently developed by university researchers.

3. In this area a hardy variety that thrives in our arid climate, Jet Star, or a promising new hybrid that university researchers developed recently, Avalanche, are the tomatoes best planted.

4. In this area the best tomatoes to plant are Jet Star, a hardy variety that thrives in our arid climate, or Avalanche, a promising new hybrid recently developed by university researchers.

5. Jet Star, a hardy variety that thrives in our arid climate, and Avalanche, a promising new hybrid recently developed by university researchers, are the best kinds of tomatoes to plant in this area.

E. Most Effective ___ Least Effective ___

1. Cleansing both body and spirit, we loved to bathe in a clear mountain pool where the stream collected briefly after cascading two hundred feet from a rocky shelf high above us.

2. In a clear mountain pool where the stream collected briefly after cascading two hundred feet from a rocky shelf high above us was where we loved to bathe, cleansing both body and spirit.

3. Where the stream collected briefly in a clear mountain pool after cascading two hundred feet from a rocky shelf high above us, cleansing both body and spirit, we loved to bathe.

4. In a clear mountain pool where we loved to bathe, cleansing both body and spirit, the stream collected briefly after cascading two hundred feet from a rocky shelf high above us.

5. After cascading two hundred feet from a rocky shelf high above us, the stream collected briefly in a clear mountain pool where we loved to bathe, cleansing both body and spirit.

3.21 Long sentences aren't always preferable to short ones. Loose sentences that run on without shape or direction should always be avoided, and even a well-constructed sentence can get too complex and unwieldy. Also, occasional short sentences add variety and emphasis to your writing. Break the following long sentences into at least two or three shorter ones.

a. Looking at this new plastic bound Bible, Danielle remembered another, older one, edged in gold and bound in black leather, worn smooth through the years of being carried back and forth to church where it had been thumbed through, passed around, and even sat on, carrying the grit, perspiration, and tearstains of several generations of her family.

b. Although we all wanted to go to my father's favorite restaurant, a quaint place run by an old Italian family that had arrived here a few years back with some delicious seafood recipes, my mother objected, saying she preferred a Spanish place called Alexandro's, which did have excellent paella but was located clear across town and was much more expensive.

c. Among the many treasures left by my late Aunt Lillie, a woman of refined and sophisticated tastes, was a small, gold peacock pin which my sister Gladys tried to claim, saying that Aunt Lillie had once promised it to her, which everyone knew was a lie made up on the spot because Lillie had too much taste to like Gladys as much as me.

3.22 Use your own judgment and imagination to combine the following sentences into a clear, effective paragraph. This activity asks you to look beyond individual sentences to a sequence of sentences. You may want to follow a few periodic sentences with a cumulative sentence, a few long ones with a very short one. Besides rhythm and pacing, consider emphasis, determining which ideas to put in a base clause and which to put in modifiers.

SPRING TUNE-UP

Leo reached into the bag. The bag was large. The bag was brown. The bag sat on the workbench. The workbench was old. The workbench was in his garage. He took out four quarts of oil. He took out an oil filter. He took out a pouring spout. He stacked them neatly in a pile. Next he picked up a smaller bag. This bag was gray. He shook it gently. Four spark plugs fell out. A set of points fell out. A rotor fell out. A condenser fell out. He arranged them in another pile. He was going to give his car a tune-up. The tune-up was for spring. He had never done this before. He was uncertain. His uncertainty was about where to begin. He decided to lift up the hood. Changing the oil looked easiest. He had seen other people do it. He decided to tackle that job first. He spilled drops. The drops were few. He did this when he changed filters. He watched the sludge. The sludge was thick. The sludge was black. It was draining. The draining was slow. The draining was into a pan. The pan was made of plastic. The plastic was yellow. The pan was under the crankcase. He replaced the plug. He poured the new oil. This oil was clear. He poured it into a hole. The hole was in the valve cover. So far, so good. Now came the hard part. First he changed the spark plugs. He set the gaps carefully. He did this with a feeler gauge. The gauge had been borrowed from a friend. Then he removed the distributor cap. He replaced the rotor. He replaced the condenser. He replaced the points. He gapped them very carefully. He was following the instructions in his shop manual. At last he recapped the distributor. He climbed into the driver's seat. He held his breath. He turned the key. The engine caught. It ran smoothly. He breathed a sigh. The sigh was long. It was of satisfaction.