Thursday, March 29, 2012

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. Like Jessica says - you really have to do it by feel.


  1. Yes, Laurel, a new paragraph for each new speaker. I think that should apply to people's actions as well where ever posible. Even in description, like points should be grouped together and new points can have their own paragraph.

    I think new rules came about because some of the classics had a slow pace, like you mentioned.

  2. A new paragraph for each speaker.. works for me. ;)