4.4 - Practicing Grammar - Own Your Distortion

In some grammar schools, they still practice this idea of diagramming a sentence. It’s a visual way to put together a sentence to ensure everything is in the right place. If you aren’t fluent in diagramming a sentence, it’s not worth learning now.

Why bother? 

If the sentence sounds right, it probably is. To be safe, read it out loud. Use your lips and tongue and vocal cords to listen to how it sounds on the page. The weird parts will jump out and slap you in the face.  With your inside voice. Even if it looks great on the page, most of the time it will sound outrageous when you read it aloud. 

Every sentence can probably be simplified. The more words in your sentence, the harder it is to diagram. When our diagram has three or four levels to the sentence, as pictured below - even if you don’t know what the diagram means, each level is another leap your reader has to take within the sentence. 

When it doubt, go short. When in confidence, make sure your reader doesn’t get lost between the first word and the final punctuation. 

Storytelling or copywriting, your goal is to paint a picture in their head. What details are you leaving out? What is being substituted? How much of the picture is the reader left imagining because you didn’t quite tell them enough?