The ease with which we can fill in the blanks tell us something important about writing for a reader.



Sentence Styles and Structures for Clarity and Emphasis II


I. Parallelism

Observe how we readers can readily anticipate what should go in the blanks below. 


1.          He fled across the room, through the door, ____________, and across the busy avenue, causing drivers to brake and honk, and pedestrians to _______ and ________.

2.          When I eat well, when I play well, and _____________, my life seems balanced.

3.          To obey all rules, to suppress any exuberance, ____________, these are not the things that make us wise.


The ease with which we can fill in the blanks tell us something important about writing for a reader.  The reader recognizes patterns and is pleased to see them fulfilled.  One important pattern is the parallel structure.  Notice how parallelism achieves clarity through pattern fulfillment, and as well, is often a means of economizing too. 


Fix the fuzzy parallelism:

At our club meeting, we identified problems with finding new members, publicizing our activities, and maintenance issues on the website.


The legal team tried to design clear laws that had precision and also which were equitable.


The coach told the players they should get lots of sleep, overeating is bad, and be warmed up before playing.


A. Parallelisms that use repetition

(Diagram adapted from Harris, Rhetorical Devices for Contemporary Writers)


Anaphora                 X-- X-- X--            repeated word(s) begin each sentence element

Epistrophe                  --X --X --X            repeated word ends each sentence element

Anadoplosis               --X X--                 repeated word ends one then begins next elemt

Epanalepsis                X--X                           repeated word begins one then ends next elemt


Anaphora: “Slowly and grimly they advanced, not knowing what lay ahead, not knowing what they would find at the top of the hill, not knowing they were so near to the outpost.”

Epistrophe: “These cars are taking market share because their engineering is superior, the quality of their materials is superior, and the workmanship of their assembly is superior.”

Anadiplosis: “Before investing in an opportunity that seems too good to be true, you should stop to think.  Think about the likelihood of losing all your money.”

Epanalepsis: “The theory sounds all wrong, but if the machine works, one cannot worry about theory.”

Identify which is which below:

-Broken pottery lay everywhere, the kiln and turning wheel also broken.

-Her lithe form moved, over the water, into the water, under the water.

-One can actively choose which products, which stores, which companies.


And fill in the blanks here:


-He sprinted through the room, and through its far door, and through that room, and _______ all the acrid smoke, to find Butters the Kitty waiting patiently. 

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