Simple Sentences: Subject, Verb, Object Edition


Yoda can get away with it, but you can’t!

Subject, verb, object. There is nothing wrong with a simple sentence!

All structures have strengths and weaknesses, and all have their uses, but if you’re going to default to any sentence structure, default to S+V+O!

Here are two sentences:

For five days, Claudia traveled, in an eastward direction. For the most part, there was no difficulty to the terrain she traversed.

Here’s the S+V+O version:

Claudia traveled eastward for five days. The terrain wasn’t too difficult, for the most part.

The latter is boring, you say? Never! Think of your sentences as points on a path that the reader is taking to get to the end of your story. The simpler they are, the easier it is for the reader to read.

Sentences are mini-paragraphs, just as paragraphs are mini-chapters (or sections). Just as a novel tells a story, each chapter tells a story as well, and each paragraph, and sentence. Just as sentence order in a paragraph can make a paragraph easy or difficult to read (take a look here for more details), word order in a sentence determines how easily the reader makes it through each sentence. Since the object is to keep the reader going, it’s up to the writer to make sure her or his words don’t get in the way of that.

Take this version of the sentence as an extreme contrast:

The terrain over which Claudia was traveling in an eastward direction for five days, wasn’t, for the most part, too difficult.

The sad truth is that the sentence above is also correct. But as you can see by reading it, correct doesn’t equal easily readable. Unless you’re using a specific structure for a specific reason, S+V+O is generally the least intrusive structure you can use. Don’t let your words get in the way of your story.

Looking for more tips? Here’s what’s up so far. More to come!