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Libre Paley

Apparently, the sentences that writers use in fiction (or perhaps that should be ‘the sentences that readers are prepared to read’) are getting shorter.

This comes from research into fiction by British authors, as reported in the media last month. These writers are, evidently, are using fewer words per sentence. Related to this, they are also, the research suggests, forsaking the semicolon (disappointing – I do love a semicolon; they’re so useful), presumably in favour of the full stop (or period). Since the early 1990s, the average sentence in fiction has fallen, the research says, from 12.73 words to 11.87.

Shorter, pithier sentences have been advised practice in factual business and political documentation for some time – the UK Government has a stipulation on sentences no longer than 25 words, for example. The idea is that keeping sentences short, and the sentence structure simple, will make documents easier to follow.

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