Shorter sentences tend to be more readable than long ones. Since I usually write long sentences in my first drafts (a part of brainstorming, writing whatever comes to mind), my revisions find me breaking those long sentences into shorter ones. The problem is that short sentences tend to be choppy. Not as smooth as extended copy. The trick then is to find a way to make short sentences flow as well as uninterrupted sentences. It’s not easy.
I got to thinking about this while editing and revising the work of another writer. Light editing doesn’t usually change how well a writer’s sentences flow into one another. But I’ve had to make so many revisions for one writer that their posts now sound fragmented and choppy. This is a serious problem. The only way to smooth out their writing would be for them to do a complete rewrite with my changes in mind. There’s no time or budget for that.
The consoling thought, at least for web work, is that ultimately most of us are not writing for readers but for robots. Much of this content generation is for higher search results rankings, the subject of search engine optimization or SEO. I often wonder, as I pen the blog posts I am paid to write, if anyone reads them at all. Or if all those words, no matter the writing style, simply go to improving a client’s website in the rankings. Today, readability may play less importance than coming up on the first page of Google’s search results.