Five Words

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing [Detail]

Words are a powerful – if often overlooked – form of communication. Understanding language, and being able to wrestle it into shape, can potentially make all the difference to the stories you tell and will certainly improve your capabilities as a designer.

I love this short, but incredibly potent passage by Gary Provost, in 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five word sentences are fine. But several together are monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals – sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.


If you’ve ever found yourself doubting words, read this. It sings.

If you enjoyed this you might like my two books on The Craft of Words, previously published by Five Simple Steps. Get both books in a discounted bundle, for less than the price of a pint, on Gumroad.

Sign Up For Updates

Occasional updates on Tiny Books’ progress, and to be notified when new books are published. No spam, I promise. Scouts’ honour!