Amazing Kids! Magazine

Writer’s Tips: Correcting Choppy Writing

By Sean Traynor, Editor-in-Chief

If you find your writing starting and stopping, rather than flowing smoothly from one thought to another, then you may be guilty of choppy writing. Choppy writing is very difficult to read because readers cannot focus on the flow of the story. Instead readers are trying to concentrate on each action being presented in short statements, spending excess time on tying the story all together. There are several quick fixes to choppy writing. Try these for your next essay:

1. Watch for strings of short, declarative sentences that make readers stop and start frequently. Declarative sentences are sentences that form a statement. For example, “Tomorrow I will go to the store.” “Yesterday I left school early.” “I told her to wear the blue skirt.” “See Spot run.”

2. Avoid beginning each sentence with introductory words such as “it” or “there,” followed by the verb “to be.”  For example, “There is…”, “It is…”, “There are…”. These “expletive” words rob the sentence of its energy before it gets a chance to work.  For example: “There are twenty-five students who want to have ice cream for dessert after class. It is they who decided that ice cream was their favorite.”  Instead, you might change this sentence to:  “Twenty-five students want ice cream for dessert after class. They decided ice cream was their favorite.”  Expletives are often unnecessary words which drag the sentence down and prevent them from flowing into one another, resulting in a choppy paragraph.

The way to prevent yourself from engaging in this type of writing is to read your piece aloud. Many times writers know what they want to write in their head, but when they put it down on paper, they write in short declarative sentences. You can catch this by reading your story or essay to another person.

How do you smooth out your writing? Use these simple techniques:

1. Link words between sentences. Each sentence should tie to the sentence preceding it and the sentence after it. You can compare facts or concepts, add details to reinforce the sentences, or follow further along in the story in some logical sequence.

2. Use pronouns that refer to a specific person, place or thing to connect sentences, called demonstrative pronouns. These demonstrative pronouns include This, That, These or Those. For example, Every night that Ryan studied his history textbooks, he recalled those words he had spoken to his teacher. It tells the reader to think about the words that he had said before that sentence.

3. Use pronouns that refer to a person, place or thing that preceded it, called relative pronouns. Such as Who, Which, Where, That. For example, I love the smell of the ocean. It is the place that makes me calm, and one where I can release all my anxieties.

4. Use semicolons to link closely related statements. Semicolons link two closely related facts or concepts and help to join the ideas contained in two short sentences. For example, It rained heavily during the afternoon; we managed to have our picnic anyway.

5. Connect paragraphs together to show a smooth transition. Try opening each paragraph with a linking word or phrase, such as Thus, or Nevertheless. Another method is to repeat key words at the end of one paragraph into the next paragraph. You can also end one paragraph with a question and answer it in the next paragraph, causing a direct link.

Many students write short, simple sentences because they are uncomfortable with the use of commas and other writing elements to make their sentences longer and more flowing. The first step to all good writing is to study and practice the use of key writing punctuation techniques to allow your thoughts to be written on paper in a vivid and interesting way.

These techniques will help you eliminate choppy writing. Take out a previous piece of your writing and try these today. Your writing will be better because of it!



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