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What are some good alternatives to parenthetical statements in writing?

I notice that I tend to use (or rather, overuse) parenthetical statements when writing. Often, the parenthetical statements become rather large - sometimes larger than the sentence they're in. Yet, I can't often find a decent alternative to them.

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    Can you provide an example? Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 21:40
  • Try a set of dashes—or commas. Also try just removing the parens.
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 22:09
  • See also the writing of Joan Didion, a skilled stylist, especially The White Album, for ideas.
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 22:13
  • Are you including statements in parenthetical commas, such as this one, in the parenthetical statements you want to avoid?
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 1:30

2 Answers 2

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I suggest that you may be trying to pack too much information or too many thoughts into one sentence, especially if these parentheses are long, as you say. If you are trying to qualify a particular part of the sentence, try removing the parenthetical thought and use it to construct a whole following sentence that qualifies, explains, or elaborates on the first. Think of the parenthetical thoughts as knots on a string that need untying into sentences of their own.

This should help the reader grasp your ideas more easily. It could also improve the flow of your writing by eliminating the stop-and-go reading and parsing caused by too many parenthetical, distracting expressions.

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  • This is right. There's a tendency to want to say everything at once, so you insert parentheses to try and define and explain everything in the same sentence. You can start by defining your terms and saying what you are going to say, then write your sentence, and finish by giving separate sentences which qualify what you've written, tease out nuances, or explain the consequences.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 10:11
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Since what is included in a parenthetical can't be the object of a sentence, a good alternative is the footnote, which can really be as long as you want. It seems that there is no better solution.

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