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Do You Have a “But, Wait, There’s More!” Problem?
By Paul Krantz

Not only am I going to alert you to a common mistake in writing, I’m also going to give you a strategy for correcting the problem.

Did you enjoy reading that sentence? If not, you can blame what I call the “but, wait, there’s more!” syndrome. Here’s another example:

Not only does Whisk laundry detergent get your clothes sparkling clean and stain-free, it also makes them smell like springtime.

Sentences like these are hard on the reader. They say, “remember what I’m saying now, but save some room in your memory for another important thing I’m going to tell you later.” In short, it isn’t nice to leave your reader’s hanging.

A second issue I have with this construction: These sentences often start off  with a negative word (in these cases, “not”). People are more likely to read something that displays a positive attitude. Here’s how that can happen with our first example:

I’m going to alert you to a common mistake in writing and give you a strategy for correcting the problem.

Getting rid of unneeded words (“Not only am I”) shortens the sentence (almost always a good idea), and makes for a clear expression of the writer’s intentions.

In some cases, it is better to split the offending sentence in two:

Whisk laundry detergent gets your clothes sparkling clean and stain-free. It also makes them smell like springtime.

This approach is most beneficial when the original sentence is more than 20 words long.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide which approach provides the best result, meaning the most powerful communication.
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