Our world is full of useful guidelines on how to write for the web. Sensible, everyday guidelines. But, over time, we morph those guidelines into laws. Unbreakable rules that spoil the fun. Sour the adventure.
Take writing short sentences, for instance.
It’s a useful guideline. Full of benefits. Meant to be inviting. Easy on the eyes. Breezy for the brain. Certainly the short sentence is a boon in this mean, cold world. Where a busy reader is likely to give your humdinger of a headline a once-over, your first line a second glance, then disappear.
But the short sentence can become boring. Breathtakingly boring. It can become repetitive. Monotonous. Monotone. Routine. And dry. Which frustrates the reader.
See, there comes a moment in every article or sales letter where all that tension building up behind those cute, compact, and simple sentences (you know, those one-subject, one-verb constructions, with an occasional direct object thrown in if the writer is feeling frisky) must be released.
In fact, there is a secret tradition between you and the reader which says short sentences promise a surprise is on the way. Some goodie. A toy in the cereal box. But tease the reader too long and she checks out.
That’s where the long sentence enters. That sometimes complex and strange construction winding its way through your paragraphs.