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How to write good sentences: The key to becoming a great writer

Guardian Masterclasses

Saturday, March 7, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT)

How to write good sentences: The key to becoming a...

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Ticket Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
How to write good sentences: The key to becoming a great writer   more info Mar 6, 2020 £49.00 £2.83
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Event Details

A great sentence makes all the difference to the quality of the book. It’s the very skeleton of writing, and how well you structure it can be the stepping stone between you and an excellent novel.

As a writer, a strong sentence is as close as you may get to creating something truly beautiful - but it’s where many of us fall short. How you construct your sentences is the difference between a forgotten manuscript and a published novel, but the basics often get forgotten in favour of plot construction and character devising.

As writer Joe Moran will show you, great sentences needn’t be complicated. In fact, as the vehicle to your story, clean and simple sentences can often give your reader the strongest sense of the world you are conveying. Using minimal technical and grammatical terms, Joe will present a guide to writing great sentences that are clear, concise and - most importantly - tell your reader exactly what you want them to know.

You will come away with a strong understanding of the concepts of good writing, and the confidence to start, develop or complete your book. Joe will cover the crucial importance of word order, identifying a strong subject and main verb, and paying attention to sentence flow and cadence. Ultimately, you will leave feeling able to write in a way that is fresh, alive, and comes from your own distinctive authorial voice.

Course content

  • The bare bones of a sentence: subject and verb

  • The importance of the full stop as the goal towards which words move

  • How to present words and phrases in the best order so as to not overburden the reader’s short-term memory

  • Using words and phrases with repetition for a rhetorical effect

  • Writing short and long sentences, and varying sentence length to create variety and musicality

  • How to avoid timid and overly-signposted writing

  • Addressing common errors in sentence writing, such as comma splices and sentence fragments

  • What makes sentences uninviting to a reader: abstract nouns, prepositional glut, long noun phrases and weak verbs

Tutor profile

Joe Moran is professor of English at Liverpool John Moores University. His books include Queuing for Beginners, On Roads, Armchair Nation, Shrinking Violets and First You Write a Sentence. He is an experienced teacher and lecturer who has long been interested in encouraging good and clear writing. He writes regularly for newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, the New Statesman, the TLS and the Financial Times. He blogs at and tweets @joemoransblog.

All Guardian Masterclasses are fully accessible but please contact us at if you have any queries or concerns.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

Have questions about How to write good sentences: The key to becoming a great writer? Contact Guardian Masterclasses

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When & Where

The Guardian
Kings Place
90 York Way
N1 9GU London
United Kingdom

Saturday, March 7, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT)

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Guardian Masterclasses

Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.

Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.

Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.

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