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I have a friend who is often my second pair of editor eyes, and there are some mistakes that we both know I make. One of them is excessively long, intricate sentences. Not intricate due to three-dollar words, but intricate in terms of syntax. I use grammar correctly most of the time, but the way I arrange the sentence structure can still end up confusing.

Just to assuage any concerns, I do more involved editing in my stories before I send them to my editor and I do more editing, of course, after she catches my errors. I’m a lot better at recognizing when my sentence structure has gone on a bender and then fixing it, but I still sometimes overlook a few rambling roses here and there. Part of the reason why is because the knots I write myself into make sense in my head. It’s the way I think, with dashes, liberal comma usage, semi-colons, colons, parentheses, one thought inserted in the midst of another, another thought coloring another between a pair of commas. I think in sounds and rhythms and sometimes accidentally sacrifice clarity.

I’m far more lenient with myself on my blog, since blogs are meant to be more a representation of the blogger thoughts, but I do take the time and effort to make sure my syntax doesn’t suffer in my stories. A long sentence isn’t necessary a bad sentence, but where it would work just as well broken up, I do so. Same goes with a comma, a semi-colon, or a hyphen. If the rhythm and clarity would be just as well served with a period, I insert one.

It is always important to recognize your patterns. Sometimes those patterns become a part of your voice – I don’t always remove every leisurely ramble if the rose at the vine’s end smells sweet enough. However, it is also important to trim what needs to be trimmed, lest everything just look like an untended jungle of punctuated verbiage.