One of the most influential books about teaching writing skills is Image Grammar by Henry Noden. In this book, Noden suggests that writing is similar to creating a painting and that the most interesting paintings are those with a variety of tones and brushstrokes.
Noden uses the term ‘brushstroke’ to describe sentence structures that can be used to make writing more interesting and varied. This is one aspect of writing that is often overlooked; authors work hard to refine their word choice and dialogue but often neglect the impact of sentence structure.
An absolute is a noun followed by an -ing verb. Using two of these at the start of a sentence can be an effective technique.
Heart pounding, knees shaking, he walked into the interview room.
An appositive is when two nouns are used that mean the same thing. These can be put next to each other to provide more background about individuals or objects that are being discussed.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is expected to make an announcement at 3pm.
The gun, a Glock 19, was lying on the floor of the bank.
Using adjectives in an unusual order
Adjectives add detail to a sentence but can be boring if they are overused. Adding them to the end of a sentence can help build variety .
In front of him was the bodyguard, gargantuan and intimidating.
As with any technique, the main risk of sentence structure variety is that it can be overused and some are more suited to fiction than nonfiction. However, if you take some time to practice these methods they will become another part of your writing toolkit that you can use when redrafting work to make your writing consistently engaging.