“You become a good writer just as you become a good joiner: by planing down your sentences.”– Anatole France
There are no rules that limit the length of a sentence, but when our sentences are strung together by a variety of actions, the sentence can begin to strain credibility.
What is wrong with this sentence? “Sally ran up the stairs, went into her bathroom, and brushed her teeth.” Watch out for three or more events in a sentence. Writers sometimes cram so much into a sentence that one can almost feel the sentence laboring under the weight. Try this. “Sally ran up the stairs to her bathroom. She stood at the sink and brushed her teeth.”
The key is to be aware of what you’re expressing in the sentence. For example, if we were attempting to express the instantaneousness of a situation, the following sentence might work just fine: “Paul flew to Japan, got off the plane, and found a job.” However, if we have simply strung actions together in the hope that we’re quickening the narrative — we’re not. Though it’s very common, and you’ll see it in almost every department store bestseller, it’s still sloppy writing.
Learn more about marrying the wildness of your imagination to the rigor of structure in The 90-Day Novel, The 90-Day Memoir, or The 90-Day Screenplay workshops.