# Sentence Composition Checklist

This is a short list of considerations to use when seeking to write well. Review the following items in order, after writing the first draft of every sentence.

• The sentence contains no extra words.
• The sentence is written in the present tense.
• The sentence is written in active voice, using the pronoun I if suitable.
• The order of items in the sentence suits the relevance of those items. (The most important item is either at the beginning or the end.)
• The sentence contains adverbs (-ly words) only where necessary.
• The sentence avoids gerunds (-ing words) wherever possible. (“A dog runs” is better than “a dog is running”.)
• The words within the sentence are strong and descriptive.
• The imagery of the sentence is concrete and specific.
• The sentence avoids awkward constructions (such as “there is…” and “would…”).
• The sentence is clear, and communicates precisely what I wish to say.
• The sentence hints at larger themes, perhaps universal themes, but is not preachy, pedantic, or pretentious. (Show, don’t tell).
• When I read the sentence aloud, the rhythm is appealing and poetic. (If I separate the phrases of the sentence into separate lines, the sentence becomes a non-rhyming poem.)

Ross Laird