Four of the first articles in a church publication I read recently began with a preposition. Three of them started with “in.”
Just because we are preachers doesn’t mean we must write poorly. We ought to get better at editing, too.
Writers may compose their articles that way, so readers will think they are scholarly. Actually, it’s just dull. In one of the pieces, the first three paragraphs began with a preposition. My reaction was yawning.
Writers need to capture the attention of a reader. That can’t be done with a preposition. It might sound scholarly to write that way, but it’s really boring.
Am I saying you can’t start a sentence with a preposition? No, I’m just pointing out that if a writer wants to catch a reader’s attention do it with a subject and predicate and not with a weak word like “in” or “with.”
The best thing a writer can do is to edit his or her own article before sending it to an editor. Writers should ask themselves if the article captured attention or if it sounds dry and uninteresting. Editors should demand better of writers than dry, boring items. Editors should ask writers to give them something interesting and not something boring.
Short pieces are better, too. My friend Randal Matheny, who edits “Forthright Magazine,” has a motto: it’s “Be Pithy.” That’s good advice. Few readers are going to read an article that is more than 300 words.