Rambling Sentences, part 2: Fixing Them

The first article about rambling sentences (“What is a Rambling Sentence?”) discussed rambling sentences and why they should be fixed, especially as a favor for the reader.
Part 2 contains several fiction and nonfiction long-winded sentences along with a rewrite of each.

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Nonfiction Examples

Transmitter including a controllable power amplifier, whose output signal is fed back to a control input of the power amplifier via a detector device which produces a detector signal for detecting the output power of the power amplifier, and comprising a signal generator for producing a control signal which is used for forming the output signal and has rising and falling edges. (62 words – one sentence)

The transmitter includes a controllable power amplifier, whose output signal is fed back to the amplifier through a detector device. The signal generator in the detector device produces a signal that detects the output of the power amplifier. The rising and falling edges in the signal generator form the output signal. (51 words – three sentences)

1. Changed including to includes.
2. Eliminated redundant terms.
3. Rearranged phrases and clauses to eliminate unnecessary prepositions.
4. Transformed the long-winded sentence to three individual sentences.

This invention provides a system and method for manually balancing the volume of air supplied through at least one duct to a conditioned space, the system including a damper rotatably mounted within the air duct by a damper shaft having a first and second ends, an electronic pulse actuator responsive to an electronic pulse being associated with the first end, a housing associated with the electronic pulse actuator is generally adapted for operably connecting the electronic pulse actuator to the air duct and a remote positioning unit in electric communication with the electronic pulse actuator where the damper is rotated between an open and a closed position for manually balancing the conditioned space to receive the desired volume of air. (120 words – one sentence) – [Please note, I quoted this sentence as it was written; the misspelled words are not mine - see the rewrite below.]

This system provides a method for manually balancing the volume of air from at least one duct to a conditioned space. The system includes a rotatable damper mounted within the air duct. The housing unit for the electronic pulse actuator and remote positioning unit is positioned at one end of the damper. Electronic communication with the electronic pulse actuator rotates the damper to control the volume of air entering the conditioned space. (72 words – four sentences)

Fixing this sentence took awhile, mostly because the original sentence was written by technicians for whom English is a second language.
1. First I read the sentence several times to make sure I understood the writer’s intent.
2. Then I replaced the non-words (rotatably and operably), which involved rewriting those phrases.
3. I broke the sentence into six smaller sentences, which made the tightening and editing process more manageable.
4. Finally I deleted redundant phrases and combined a few clauses until I ended up with four sentences that are easy to read and understand.

Fiction Examples

The climate on Jonas Island was noticeably milder than the blustery, inhospitable weather on the mainland forty miles away, and the same could be said of the agricultural products grown in the two places as well as the trade goods available in both places, including the handmade crafts, which the islanders often wove from the tall grass that grew on the eastern part of the island, the only place where this type of grass could be found, even though for centuries the mainlanders had tried unsuccessfully to grow it in their rocky soil. (95 words – one sentence)

People found the climate on Jonas Island much milder than the blustery, inhospitable weather that stalked the mainland 40 miles away. Not only did the weather differ between the two places, the agricultural products, trade goods and handmade crafts differed too. The islanders often wove their baskets and dolls from the tall grass that grew in the middle of the island, which appeared to be the only place this plant would grow. For centuries the jealous mainlanders had tried to cultivate that unique grass, but the plant refused to take root in their rocky soil. (95 words – four sentences)

Even though the word count is the same in these two narratives, the rewrite contains a few additional words that help the story flow better.

From what Lynn remembered of his parents’ stories, which they told to him when he was only ten or younger, together with what his foster parents had told him about his family, Lynn knew that his first cousin’s name was Bernard, the only child of Lynn’s uncle on his father’s side, which meant that Bernard and Lynn (both the only children of their parents) shared the same last name, although Lynn had no idea what Bernard looked like or if he even wanted to meet an orphan cousin he had to reason to care about. (95 words – one sentence)

From what Lynn could remember, his parents and foster parents had all told him that he had a first cousin named Bernard, whom he hadn’t seen since he was a child. He and Bernard had several things in common, including the same last name and being raised as an only child. But what if the similarity ended there? What if this cousin bore no resemblance to Lynn and couldn’t care less about a relative he hadn’t seen in over 10 years? (81 words – four sentences)

This was the easiest sentence to fix. The original rambling sentence did have a certain flow to it, which I strove to maintain when I broke it up. I changed the last sentences to questions to help increase the reader’s interest in Lynn’s drama.

Okay, that’s it for rambling sentences. Next we will tackle redundancy.

Happy Halloween!!
(c) October 31, 2011

Related Topics:
What is a Rambling Sentence?

About Admin

Senior technical writer, editor, ghost writer, teacher, creative writer, artist and webmaster.
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