The Inside Write Stuff — the stress positions of sentences: the start and the end

1. The most important position in a sentence is the end, so we should emphasize it much of the time.

2. The most important position in a sentence, the one we should emphasize much of the time, is the end.

3. If your sentences have at the start their important ideas, your writing will improve.

4. The start of a sentence is the place for important ideas, if you want your writing to improve.

These two observations, which are far from mandatory rules but which strengthen both our writing and our thinking, come from George D. Gopen, Expectations: Teaching Writing From The Reader’s Perspective (Pearson Education 2004). Variation 1 buries the central point; variation two closes powerfully with that point in the stress position. Variation 3 conceals the main point in the middle of an introductory phrase; at the start Variation 4 stresses the main point.

When writing, ask yourself what’s most important that your sentence means to say. The answer suggests how to construct the sentence’s beginning and conclusion.

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