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An obvious answer might be "because people like variety", but this doesn't feel right. If this was the case, why doesn't using a different font family (or color) for each word feel engaging? What is it about us humans that makes us attracted to this particular type of variety?

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Because the more variety in sentence structure and words makes it come off less repetitive. When you’re repetitive, it literally sounds like you’re a machine. Example:

I looked down the street at the coffee shop. I walked towards the coffee shop. I stopped in front of the coffee shop. It smelled like coffee. I walked inside the coffee shop. The barista said hello to me. I waited in line. I ordered a coffee.

Vs.

I looked down the street at the coffee shop. I walked towards the shop, crossing the street to get to the door. I stopped in front of it and peered inside, just to make sure it was actually open. I took a deep breath as I walked inside. The familiar smell of coffee filled my nose, and the barista greeted me behind the counter. Et cetera et cetera.

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    Why does sounding like a machine feel less engaging? Machines can produce engaging things. Ex: printed text can be more engaging than human handwriting. You wouldn't say: you should not write letters perfectly because that would look like you're a machine. Dec 9 '20 at 19:19
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    +1 Good answer that gives a good example. I would add that we humans also like good sentence structure for reading purposes, it is much easier to understand a well put together sentence rather than a jumble of words.
    – Nai45
    Dec 9 '20 at 19:20
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    Yeah. They can produce amazing things. But sounding like a machine is a simile (so don’t take it too seriously.) and I put it that way because machines, like Siri, tend to sound repetitive and repeat the same thing over and over. I wasn’t saying machines are bad, I was just putting their tendency to be repetitive into a simile. So the question isn’t, “why does sounding like a machine feel less engaging?” it’s, “why is being repetitive less engaging?” And that’s simple. No one likes to hear the same thing repeat itself. Dec 9 '20 at 19:33
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    The variation isn't arbitrary. Composition couples ideas in ways that reveal the complexity and subtlety of the writer's thoughts. Subordination, coordination, parallelism, loose and periodic, these all disappear if the sentences don't vary, and with them goes the accurate rendering of world and character, or dream.
    – Zan700
    Dec 10 '20 at 13:51
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    Thank you for explaining that a bit better than me. That was exactly what I was trying to say. Dec 10 '20 at 14:33
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My all-time number one favorite book on writing, Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost explains exactly why variation and sentence structure is so important in a section the author titles: Music. The sound of the words make music in the readers head.

music in the reader's head

The book continues with a great many examples and explains exactly how to create this affect and why it is so important.

If. You. Read. This. It. Will. Create. Staccato. Sounds.

Compare that one to :

Words that flow from the author tend to make quieter noises in the head of the reader.

What you really want are sentences of varying length and construction. When you create sentences with variety it can literally wake the reader up.

Here's My Example

Here's my example using one of my all-time favorite novel beginnings, The Partner, by John Grisham. I've shortened up the example as to not take too long. They found him in Ponta Porã; a pleasant little town in Brazil, on the border of Paraguay, in a land still known as the Frontier. They found him living in a shaded brick house on Rua Tiradentes, a wide avenue with trees down the center and barefoot boys dribbling soccer balls along the hot pavement.

Text Excerpt

They found him in Ponta Porã; a pleasant little town in Brazil, on the border of Paraguay, in a land still known as the Frontier.

They found him living in a shaded brick house on Rua Tiradentes, a wide avenue with trees down the center and barefoot boys dribbling soccer balls along the hot pavement.

Sample Analysis

Here's my example with similar structure and sound.

He discovered it before anyone else in the sleepy town of Philsbruck, Minnesota had even opened their eyes for the day. He discovered it buried under a wagon, behind Tom's house in a large field where he and Tom had ridden motorcycles, when they were younger and still friends.

Mine isn't exactly the same, but it is similar. There is some repetition. There is some mystery about what he found and who he is. You begin to see how the two sound similar in the reader's head.

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    While I have to admit that using 'pictures' with your quotes make them stand out and show character, I have to point out that many people can not 'read' them as pictures do not work for 'text to speak' software and people who rely on enlarging text or using special typeface that will allow them to read are also left out with 'text as picture'.
    – Willeke
    Dec 12 '20 at 17:53
  • @Willeke I appreciate the comment and you are right about that. I was only doing that since it was quoted from another source and because I was trying to show some edit symbols. I will keep this in mind in future.
    – raddevus
    Dec 12 '20 at 20:03

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