writers tips

Writer’s Tip #30: Too Many Prepositional Phrases

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Don’t string one prepositional phrase after another in an effort to be erudite.
Don’t string them together in an effort to add color to your writing.

She jogged down the street by the brook in the darkness with no flashlight.

Argh. I’ve lost track of the action in the sentence.

Unless, as Gordon Silverstein at the University of Minnesota says, you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

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11 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #30: Too Many Prepositional Phrases

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Tips for Writers in 2014 | WordDreams...

  2. It’s easy to fall into this trap. Suggestions: Create a new sentence. That is the best solution. Break several of the prepositional phrases into their own descriptive sentence. If it gets too narrative, add some action–as in, your POV character interacting with the object of the prepositional phrases. In the example above, She jogged down the dark street by the brook, her only guide the sound of crickets. Why had she forgotten her flashlight?


  3. I knew things sounded awkward in my writing before I thought within the context of this rule. As you say, I’ve adjusted my speaking style, too, because I know the listener can’t follow any better those convoluted sentences than the reader can.

    Thanks for visiting. Love your thoughts on your blog.


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