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This Sentence Has Five Words: A Lesson from Gary Provost on Varying Sentence Length

This short example from Gary Provost demonstrates what happens when a writer experiments with sentences of different lengths, as quoted in Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark.

Gary Provost was born in 1944 and died in 1995. He was the author of many books across a range of genres including four award-winning young adult novels. Provost was also a highly sought after writing instructor and published a number of writing advice books including Make Every Word Count (Writers Digest Books, 1980). Read more about Gary Provost at, a site established and maintained by his wife Gail.



  1. Paul Woods
    5 August 2014 / 11:29 pm

    Completely agree Robyn and very informative.

  2. Su
    6 August 2014 / 5:19 am

    I’ve read this before and love the message. It’s a great example of how to vary sentences and create music with words.

  3. 20 November 2015 / 7:11 am

    Brilliant! Clearly teaches an amazingly crucial concept.

  4. Bobba Rhine
    17 February 2016 / 8:02 am

    I love it! Will definitely share this with my high-school students who aren’t sure that the way you express yourself does make a difference!

  5. Chad
    27 February 2016 / 2:54 am

    That last sentence needed a semi-colon after the word “length.”

  6. Alan Mander
    10 March 2016 / 5:46 am

    @Chad: No, it doesn’t. The right side of that semicolon is not an independent clause. Worse than being a pedant is being a pedant and wrong.

  7. 29 July 2016 / 3:17 am

    Nothing like an example to make things clear. =)

  8. Kathleen Webb
    27 September 2016 / 8:00 am

    Very cool, I like it.

  9. 1 October 2016 / 8:31 pm

    The example really gets the point across clearly.

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