Saturday, March 24, 2012

Defining a Paragraph

How do you define a paragraph? Jessica Crockett, a member of YAWRITE@LISTS.PSU.EDU>
gives her view.
There is no hard and fast rule, but a paragraph should generally contain a
single 'thought' or 'idea'. This could be a phrase one character speaks, the
description of a place (which may be quite a long paragraph), or a coherent
bite of something like action where one major thing is happening.
Sometimes there will be one point in a paragraph, but sometimes there may
also be several unified points (this tends to happen more often in formal
writing like essays or other non-fiction works rather than in fiction, where
very long paragraphs risk slowing the pace of the work). A paragraph break
is also used to give readers a pause where one seems to be needed.
You really have to do it by feel.
I was told when I began to write - one new paragraph for each character's dialogue. This was
turned on its head when in some classic novels more than one character spoke in
the same paragraph. I have decided on a new paragraph for each character
in my writing. Like Jessica says - you really have to do it by feel.

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