On the Papers: Whose Story Is this Sentence? Directing Readers’ Perceptions of Narrative

Vol. 38 No. 3

The author is Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke University.

Please take a moment to rank the following three sentences by quality of writing. Which is best? Which worst?

 

(A) The defendant deprived the plaintiff of his contractual rights by refusing to forward the shipment.

 

(B) The plaintiff was deprived of his contractual rights by the defendant’s refusal to forward the shipment.

 

(C) The refusal to forward the shipment by the defendant deprived the plaintiff of his contractual rights.

 

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