What’s a sticky sentence? It’s a sentence that contains over 45% glue words. And what are glue words? They’re the 200+ most common words in the English language. They include, but are not limited to:
This is what a sentence with more than 45% glue words looks like.
- ORIGINAL: Andy went over to the far end of the playground to see if there was a rake that he could use to tidy up all of the leaves that had fallen down in the night.
This sentence contains 69% glue words that meander around its meaning. Here’s what a revision might look like.
- REDRAFT: Mountains of leaves had fallen overnight, so Andy checked the playground for a rake.
Redrafted, the new sentence is only 42% glue words. And it’s much easier to read, wouldn’t you say? Unnecessary, fluffy wording is discarded for a much more succinct sentence.
Another example to consider:
- ORIGINAL: At that moment, Karen walked out onto the middle of the stage with her violin and looked out across the room at the big crowd.
This sentence contains 64% glue words that add no substance. Consider how a redraft tightens it.
- REDRAFT: At that moment, Karen appeared on the stage with her violin, her eyes wide as she surveyed the growing crowd.
Redrafted, the new sentence is only 45% glue words. What do you think? Does it portray the same image more clearly?
Sticky sentences and your use of glue words are subjective. You determine whether your sentence is too sticky, not sticky enough, or just right. Statistics show published writing is generally made of a low average percentage of glue words.
If you have an editing tool that detects sticky sentences automatically, use it to check out all the instances where a sentence uses more than 60% glue words. Carefully reread each sentence and consider if it should be rewritten.
23 thoughts on “How To Avoid Sticky Sentences”
Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie.
Thank you 😃
Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog.
Thank you so much for sharing my blog! I’m glad my words are helping a wider audience than I expected.
It’s a great issue, Douglas 👍😃
Thank you again 😃👍
Thank you 😃 I hope it helps
Great post. It’s something I’ll be looking out for in my own writing, now. Thank you.
Thank you. I’m glad you enjoy it and hopefully, it helps your writing 😃
Thank you for following one of my blogs.
As for sticky situations, I’m an old hand at them. As a professional problem solver, I dive in head first and start sorting it out.
That’s okay, thank you for contributing to mine 😃 That’s how I tackle my first draft, spill everything on the page and sort out plots, character arcs and everything else later on 😃
As a therapist, I work with my characters and let them tell me their story. 🙂 I am merely the typist. 😉
That’s an interesting way to look at it! I’m sure it will help with the quality and individuality of your characters 😃
One can hope. Thank you. 🙂
Love this! Just want I needed while working on the latest draft. And LOVE the art at the end 😀
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope it helps 😃
Thank you for sharing it 😃
I just critiqued a fellow writer over “wordiness,” which was due to the sticky word problem and plethora of prepositional phrases. “Karen appeared center stage, eyed the throng, and raised her violin.” I often find this pace-killing clog on re-reading my own work. Thanks for the helpful reminder. R.R. Brooks (Justi the Gifted, The Clown Forest Murders)
When I read my work sometimes I have a lot of sticky sentences. But my point is to edit with sticky words as a focal point because it will distract and withdraw the reader from the scene and conflict.
You must log in to post a comment.