14.4 – Refining Your Writing: End-of-Chapter Exercises

Learning Objectives

  • Use the skills you have learned in the chapter.
  • Work collaboratively with other students.
  • Work with a variety of academic and on-the-job, real-world examples.


  1. Children’s stories are deliberately written in short, simple sentences to avoid confusion. Most sentences are constructed using the standard subject-verb-object format. Choose a children’s story that is suitable for eight- to ten-year-olds. Rewrite a chapter of the story so that it appeals to a slightly older age group, by editing for sentence variety. Experiment with the techniques you learned in Section 15.1 “Sentence Variety”, including the three different ways to vary sentence structure at the beginning of a sentence and the three different ways to connect ideas between sentences. Compare the revised chapter with the original version and consider how sentence variety can be used to target a particular audience.
    Collaboration: Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
  2. Compile a selection of real-life writing samples from the workplace or around the home. You might like to choose one of the following: e-mail, junk mail, personal letter, company report, social networking page, local newspaper, bulletin-board posting, or public notice. Choose two samples that lack sentence variety. Highlight areas of each writing sample that you would edit for sentence variety and explain why. Replace any recognizable name with a pseudonym, or a fictitious name.
    Collaboration: Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
  3. Group activity. Choose a well-known speech, such as Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech, or Barack Obama’s inaugural address. Make a copy of the speech and, as a group, underline examples of parallelism. Discuss the effects of using parallelism and consider whether it is always used to achieve the same result or whether the writer manipulates parallelism to create a variety of responses among his or her audience.
  4. Group activity. Working in a small group, select a workplace document or academic essay. Examine each paragraph and identify examples of sentence variety, coordination and subordination, and parallelism. Then, choose one particular paragraph and discuss the following questions:
    • Does the writer use sentence variety effectively?
    • Does the writer connect his or her ideas effectively?
    • Does the writer use subordination and coordination correctly?
    • Does the writer use parallelism to emphasize his or her points?

      As a group, identify the weaker areas of the paragraph and rewrite them. Focus on sentence structure and sentence variation. Use coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions to join sentences.

  5. Choose a college essay or a recent piece of writing from your work or everyday life. Use the techniques you have learned throughout this chapter to edit your writing for sentence variety, appropriate coordination and subordination, and parallelism. When you have finished, compare the two versions and write a brief analysis of how sentence variety, coordination and subordination, and parallelism help refine a piece of writing.

Attribution & References

Except where otherwise noted, this chapter is adapted from “7.4 Refining Your Writing: End-of-Chapter exercises” In Writing for Success by University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.


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Communication Essentials for College Copyright © 2022 by Jen Booth, Emily Cramer & Amanda Quibell, Georgian College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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