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Editor's Notes, August 3, 2004--Shorter sentences/Bigger bank account
August 03, 2004

"Keep working with your notes and ideas as they flow.
Before you know it,
you will have enough material to fill several books!"--Carol Upton

Writing Tip

Keep it short.

Readability improves as the numbers go down.

Today, I challenge you to shorten your sentences. Twenty-first century readers don't want many sentences that go beyond 20 words. You don't have to stop and count every sentence. Go through this check list to see if your sentences are getting out of hand

  • Print out a page of text. Circle every end punctuation: period, question mark, or exclamation mark.
  • In most computer applications, any sentence over two lines is too long. Consider revising.
  • Keep one idea in one sentence.
  • Watch out for comma splices.That's where you've used a comma instead of a period.
  • Pay attention to the following list of words. They may signal a problem: and, but, so, if, and because.

    The occasional long sentence is fine. Just be sure that
  • you do not have too many long sentences in any section and
  • any long sentence you do have needs to be long.

    A Resource

    Those of you who are interested in writing a memoir, biography, or autobiography may be interested in Carol Upton's services. Carol ran the first wirting group I joined, is co-owner of The Sunshine Coast School of Writing, and is a respected member of the local writing community. I recommend her unreservedly.

    Email Carol Upton at for your free monthly newsletter for life story writers. Living Legends News contains tips and techniques, a family recipe section, workshops, writing exercises, resources and other information to help you navigate the world of life story writing.

    Canadian residents only--A banking opportunity

    When I began to make money writing, I opened a bank account to keep that money separate. I chose a bank that offered interest.

    I called them first to see how they could afford to pay me for the use of my money when my regular bank couldn't. (I used to work for one of Canada's biggest banks so I knew what questions to ask.) After my investigation I assured myself that they were legitimate, were covered by CIDC insurance, and genuinely would give me real interest without tying up my money for months or years at a time.

    Two years later I'm a very happy customer. In fact, I opened a second account for another purpose, as well.

    Recently I got an email from this bank that I suspected might be SPAM, so I called them. They told me that what I had received was legitimate.

    Until August 15 they are offering $13 to anyone who opens an account of at least $100.

    Once again I was skeptical, but I've checked and rechecked and this is legitimate, too.

    Instead of spending money on SPAM and making reasonable people really mad, this bank is willing to give new clients this offer. They know that if you have agreed to allow them to contact you, you are more than mildly interested, and certainly won't be angry with them. They are betting that once you see what they have available, you'll open an account. That's worth $13 to them because they expect you'll be like me and leave your money there for a long time.

    If this is interesting to you, give me your first and last name and email address. (Each person can take advantage of this offer only once, but yesterday I had a family of four--two parents and their two college age children--send in four names and addresses. That's 4x$13 for that family.) I won't use your information for anything else. And the bank has promised to contact you only once. (In the two years I have banked with them, this is the first email I have had from them.)

    If there is a topic or resource you think will benefit other Editor's Notes subscribers, let me know and I will include it in future issues.

    Remember, you can ask any editing question at

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