Good things come in twos.
Except for Ogren's. We come in threes (I have two older brothers).
When writing, remember this truth: When possible, use two sentences to delight your reader. Or, if you have a specific point you wish to make, you can use two sentences to create emphasis.
What does this look like in action?
"Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." — Mark Twain.
Do you see how Twain sets up his point? He firmly believes writing is a bitch. Most of us do as well. So instead of simply agreeing with us, he drives the point home by disagreeing upfront (writing is easy).
After reading "Writing is easy," you wonder what he means. Does Twain honestly believe it's easy? But, as you read the two—of his one-two punch—you grasp, in entirety, his point.
Stephen Wilbers, in Mastering the Craft of Writing, shares why the one-two combo works:
"This one-two combination has a natural appeal. The first sentence makes a statement; The second sentence undercuts it. It's the ironic twist that surprises the reader and makes the quip memorable."
As a reader, keep your eye out for this one-two combo. Because now that you're aware of it, you'll spot it everywhere.
Here are a few more examples to help you see this technique in action:
"I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork."
"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."
That last one hits home. The first sentence is a statement some falsely believe. However, the second sentence undercuts it by detailing the sheer vulnerability required to write something worth reading.
Now, you may have noticed that all the examples use periods to create separation. That is not a hard rule. You can, and should, use other punctuation to create the same delight.
"My thoughts are like waffles—the first few don't look too good."
Have you caught on to another "rule" for this technique? It's balance.
Most of these examples have sentences that balance each other. That may be with length or with weight (heaviness of sentiment).
See how this example is less effective because of a lack of balance:
"I love baseball. Aside from sitting for four hours watching twelve total minutes of action and eating overpriced processed meat."
It's not balanced in length or weight. "I love baseball" is as surface as it gets.
What about this:
"Life is beautiful. I was born a white male to a wealthy family who attended great schools to learn how to hate my skin and repress myself from achieving success."
While the sentences do not balance in length, I feel they balance in weight. "Life is beautiful" can be a heavy sentence with many implications that balances the longer sentence that follows.
Marketeer Insights ⚔️
- When trying to drive a point home, use the one-two combo—have your first sentence be a statement followed by a sentence to undercut your first sentence.
- This technique does well when used as a hook. It creates curiosity and delight.
- The one-two combo creates a natural flow in your writing because you do not try to do too much with one sentence and can rely on two to effectively do your work.
Where can you begin using this simple technique to boost your writing?
🧠 + ❤️ // JO