re: Does Paragraph Length Matter?

posted 10/9/14

Dear Editor…

Do paragraphs have to be the same size?

Sincerely,
Adele

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Dear Reader…

Unless we’re talking about a deliberately stylized narrative or something text-booky or manual-like where paragraph uniformity can be an organizing tool, I recommend variety in your paragraph lengths. Your story’s rhythm is on the line. Pages full of uniform paragraph blocks can create a staccato feel that may wow at dramatic moments but overwhelm across an entire book. Variety relaxes readers, helping them sink past your words and into your story. Try to think of paragraphing not as a technical decision but as a rhythmic tool. Do you want the story to energize? Lay down a bunch of short paragraphs. Bam, bam, bam! Do you want it to calm down? Time for some long, rich paragraphs. Ahh…. Time to shake things up or reveal or shock your readers? Flow out a succession of long paragraphs then kick in good and hard with a single-sentence punch of a paragraph. Embrace the power of rhythmic storytelling and manipulate your story’s tone, tension, and impact.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Creative Process, Formatting/Punctuation/Grammar, General fiction
Comments to "re: Does Paragraph Length Matter?" | Add a Comment
    1. Kurt Chambers wrote (on 10/10/14 at 11:15 am) :

      What a great question. And an equally great answer 🙂 It’s something that you feel is right, I have found. You describe it so perfectly, Deborah.

      [Reply]

      The Editor replied (on 10/10/14 at 11:21 am) :

      Thanks, Kurt! Paragraphing is a powerful tool, but it’s often one we don’t consciously think about. I love having the opportunity to focus on it.

      [Reply]

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