Writer’s Wednesday: Backload Your Sentences

Lesson #2: Backload your sentences and place the emotional punch of a sentence at the end.

See how that last sentence achieved this? The words “the very end” packed a punch. Its finality resonates with the reader, long after the sentence is read.

What if I had written the sentence this way? “Position your strongest words, your strongest ideas in the position of power—the very end—when you backload your sentences.”

You get the idea. The emphasis got lost in the forgettable middle.

Backloading holds true for paragraphs, chapters, books. Try to hold onto your best stuff until the end, then let your reader have it!

That said, the second-best place to position words or ideas of importance is at the very beginning. Some writing teachers call this the “2-3-1” rule. Start off strong, tuck the least important information in the middle, then save the very best for last!

Another hint: As much as possible, try to write in active voice, not passive voice. Sometimes this will clear up problems with word order. (You remember that part of grammar don’t you? Active voice verbs are action verbs such as “hit,” stepped,” laughed,” etc. Passive voice are the pesky forms of “be” that can be used by themselves or latched onto a regular action verb such as “was carried,” “have eaten,” etc.)

How would you rewrite this sentence, so as to uphold the “2-3-1” rule? Remember, find the most important detail and place it at the end. Find the second-most important detail and place it at the beginning. (By the way, there is no ONE exact answer; there will be variations.)

A child, stuck in a rain culvert, was rescued by firemen who soon arrived at 223 Talley Trace due to a 9-1-1 call.

 

How would you rewrite this one? Find the most important detail, place it at the end. Find the second-most important detail and place it at the beginning.

Dumbfounded, the defense lawyer was unable to finish his closing argument after the prosecution discredited the star witness.

 

Post your rewritten sentences in the comments below. We can learn from each other!

Next week, we’ll look at Lesson #3: “Take it easy on the “ings.”

Lookin’ up,

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Great advice! I have too often seen writers with really great ideas, somehow lose them in the mis-positioning.

    • sislynstewart says:

      The longer you study writing, the more this is apparent in all types of print. It’s like invisible scaffolding for the sentence. . .or chapter. . . .or article. Thanks for the comment, Connie!

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