Writing style is a matter of taste. That simple fact is a cornerstone of writing. However, there are many things that can make reading more enjoyable for your audience. Whether it is learning how to vary the beginnings of your sentences or employing a touch of poetry in your prose, you will find that these simple touches can help your writing evolve from simple storytelling to epic wordcraft. Writing fluidly is achieved in part by practice but also by knowing what rules to bend, break, and employ. When you realize that not every character description needs to begin with a pronoun and not every sentence needs to sacrifice beauty for stark function, you can begin to make something that flows off the tongue instead of staggers from your lips. There is a contrast between how you type in conversation and the amazing variety you can utilize when crafting a scene. Aside from varying words (the subject of one of the exercises in this group), writers may also vary sentence complexity. Some sentences are simple. Some gain a level of complexity, drawing in the imagination. Writing such sentences can seem unnatural at first, for the human tendency is to convey imagery concisely. However, when you begin to establish a flow, an almost musical rhythm begins to drive the words and it will then seem more difficult to deviate from the heartbeat that is simple, complex, and compound. If you have trouble with this concept, think of words as music. Short, simple sentences strung together have a very staccato feel, while more complicated sentences and flowery words are legato. (For those who do not know, staccato means short and sharp, legato means smooth and flowing without breaks.) Depending on what tone you want, you may vary the structure used. Urgent events may call for staccato, the feeling of a racing heartbeat. Then, you would either use several simple sentences or many simple phrases linked in a series. At other times, you may want a more flowing, gentle feeling. This is often enchanting and mesmerizing, bringing feelings of being wrapped in the words themselves. However, most works call for a mix of staccato and legato, and writing is no different. As you begin to write more, you will realize that some sentences defy the above guidelines. I’m sure you’ve noticed a few in this workshop. Some simple sentences flow softly. Some more complicated sentences deliver sharp meaning that cannot be defied. This is as much because of a choice of words as it is because of sentence structure, and thus you must learn what words flow well together. Alliteration, internal rhyme, and tricks of balance will help you develop a much more musical method of perfecting prose. At the same time, remember that overdoing it and creating something that is more floral than substantial can have the opposite effect than desired. Readers will find themselves having to consult a thesaurus or dictionary every few lines and you may find that you’ve inadvertently used a synonym wrong or created a turn of phrase that, while original, is utterly humorous for all the wrong reasons. Fluid writing takes a good deal of practice, and true masters never stop honing their art. Exercise: Take a recent paragraph you’ve written and attempt to rewrite it with a more natural, musical flow. This does not mean to turn it into poetry or music, simply to breathe a bit of rhythmic life into it. Give it a try! I’d love to see the before and after.