Hi Folks,

Despite what most of us heard in school (from non-writers, ahem), you don’t have to keep everything about a particular topic in one massive paragraph.

Especially in fiction. And blog posts.

In fiction, you should begin a new paragraph every time a different character speaks. Most everybody knows that.

You should also begin a new paragraph when the scene or setting changes (even in the same setting, even a little).

The primary benefit of shorter paragraphs (say up to 5 or 6 lines on the page) is Pacing.

Shorter paragraphs pull your reader through the story. Period. Longer paragraphs slow the reader down, cause him or her to read more carefully.

I don’t personally use longer paragraphs very often even in my magic realism or nonfiction works, where they are most often expected.

Skip to blog posts. The same general rule applies. Shorter paragraphs pull the reader through the post.

For a simple comparison (with all due respect to the excellent writer Joe Hartlaub) read this blog post, then read “A Little Something Extra” at

I’m not being critical of Joe here. I’m just saying, for ease of reading, compare the two blog posts side by side.

It’s difficult to slog through long and super-long paragraphs of text. A longer paragraph presents to the eye as a big square block of black type against a white page. It looks intimidating, so it is intimidating.

Back to fiction.

Especially in high-action scenes, you want short or hyper-short paragraphs. A staccato back-and-forth of one-line or one-sentence paragraphs in frenzied dialogue will cause the reader’s heart rate to increase.

It will literally force the reader to eavesdrop on the discussion (and thereby pull him/her deeper into the story). You might even say it makes the read a character in the story (The Eavesdropper). When a reader is involved, s/he’s invested and engaged in the story.

Likewise, a series of short sentences or even sentence fragments in unspoken thought (inanely, some call this “internal dialogue”) will do the same thing.

Think about this, study it, then apply it as you write.

And when you write a blog post, consider being kind to your reader.

Write short paragraphs. (grin)

‘Til next time, happy writing!


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