Writing: Short sentences are not always better sentences

In Nuce: Finishing sentences
Cartoon by Dan Reynolds (Source: http://www.oxbridgeessays.com)
Keeping in mind that the purpose of writing is to communicate clearly, there is a misconception that short sentences are easier than long sentences to understand. This is, of course, not true, because the thought behind a series of short sentences may be as elusive as the thought behind a series of long ones. 

Says Minto,
The sentences may be disconnected; the bearing of one statement on another may not be obvious. In a closely argumentative passage, short sentences are often more difficult to follow than long. Short sentences are preferable to long if the connection can be maintained, but not otherwise.
The evil twin of a disconnected short sentence is an overcrowded convoluted one. The temptation to overcrowd is often the result of having made a statement that needs support, explanation or qualifying. When writing, or evaluating writing, keep Minto's suggestions in mind:
  1. Don't be in too great a hurry with your qualifications.
    State your main point broadly; and if the subject is at all intricate, give the qualifications separately. Never state a qualification in the same sentence if it would distract from the full understanding of the main statement. Never qualify a qualification in the same sentence.

  2. Have some confidence in the candid intelligence of your readers.
    Do not burden your sentence with what is obvious without statement. Many writers are tedious because they fatigue the attention with unnecessary clauses. An ordinary discourse cannot be constructed with the verbal precision of a statute. You must, of course, judge for yourself how far you can carry this confidence in your readers.

  3. Beware of parentheses that might distract from your main topic.When you cannot resist the temptation to throw in an aside, see that it stands clearly as such. Remember that in writing you cannot introduce parentheses and subordinate clauses as easily as you can in speaking, when parenthetical and subordinate character can be indicated by the voice.
 Source: Minto.

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