This sentence, the one you’re reading now – you know, the one with lots of sub-clauses in it, when a lot of those sub-clauses are unnecessary – is rather difficult to read, presumably because it’s like a written word version of Inception, the excellent Christopher Nolan film – which also starred Leonardo di Caprio – as it delves into so many levels that it becomes confusing.
It’s not the first time I’ve been guilty of writing a dreadful sentence like that, and it probably won’t be the last either. But at least I know it’s horrible.
And that’s why I try to adhere to one simple rule while writing: A sentence is allowed a maximum of one sub-clause.
This can be quite tricky to stick to, but it’s a very useful rule to keep in the back of your mind as you’re writing. If the sentence you’re writing has broken into a second sub-clause, there’s almost certainly a better way of writing it. And that usually means breaking it down into two sentences.