Anyway, I came across one sentence today that ended in "into," and no matter where we end up in debates about ending on a preposition, ending on that particular one (it's really two ... in and to) usually makes for an ugly sentence. So right away, I thought about how to get rid of that. Often, I can just delete the preposition and the sentence works fine, like:
That's the state I'm dwelling in.
That's the state I'm dwelling.
without any loss of meaning. It's still not a particularly GOOD sentence, but it's serviceable, and maybe it doesn't have to be very good. Anyway, it's an easy fix to a sentence when I have more important issues, like finishing this edit by dinner.
But sometimes mere deletion of the preposition doesn't help much. Here's a sentence that's part of a biography (the syntax is identical, but I changed the details, if you're wondering why on earth anyone would put in a bio that they rented a storage closet
By then I had enough money and was able to rent a storage closet to put my bicycles and tools into.
That's the sort of sentence we often write when we're trying to get from point A (here, poverty) to point B (starting a bicycle repair business), just a waystation between departure and destination. And so the sentence is just conveying some information, and doesn't have to be really sparkling (save that for the great success sentences coming up). But even a waystation sentence can be comfortable. (I thought maybe I'd use "comfortable" to go with the waystation metaphor, see. A waystation can be comfortable, but it probably can't be "harmless," which was my first adjective choice.) Let's see how to make this an okay sentence, starting with the ending:
By then I had enough money to rent a storage closet for my bicycles and tools.
What do you think? Not too much in the way of change, but it's concise now, and the cause/effect is clearer when the "and" is replaced with the infinitive "to rent," and the other clutzy infinitive "to put my stuff into" is cleaned up with the nice encompassing "for."
Most important, now this waystation sentence doesn't call much attention to itself. It's not pretty, but it's not clunky. (Or rather, it's not glitzy, but it's not a dive either. Metaphor!) It's just clean and quick for a stop on the way to somewhere more important.
But there might be better ways to clean up that sentence. What do you suggest? I must say, it's never going to be a great sentence, and it shouldn't be, because it's not expressing any great thought. I just want those types of sentences-- necessary, but not special-- to be precise and concise and quick for the reader. Your suggestions? Anyone have a "waystation sentence" to share?
And is it important to make even the minor sentences precise and concise? Is it a waste of time to focus much attention on those instead of the more important passages that can pay back big returns in reader experience?