Joho the BlogR paragraphs 2 long? - Joho the Blog

R paragraphs 2 long?

Over the years as I’ve edited my own writing, I’ve come to rely on two heuristics: 1. Most paragraphs are better off without a topic sentence. 2. The ends of paragraphs sometimes make better beginnings.

My obvious hypothesis is that the Web has made us impatient readers who won’t wait to get to the end of the paragraph to decide whether the paragraph is worth reading. That’s true for me, anyway. Thorough reading takes more of an act of will than I remember.

TL;DR: Paragraphs are obsolete. Skip to the TL;DR.

4 Responses to “R paragraphs 2 long?”

  1. I read a lot of books on PC/Kindle/phone, and can still get caught up in a good story. Yet, when I’m reading a blog post or news story, I get impatient. Go figure.

  2. Unfortunately today all youth being taught , to eye-catching visual effects and if they see a text too flat for more beautiful, useful or interesting it is, simply pass by.

    also you are right , people today eagerness maintained and no longer enjoy the reading should be.

    I believe that to combat this, use fraces or striking paragraphs or generate mystery and expectation to achieve the intention of catching readers and continue reading.

    I speak Spanish and very little English so I have to use a translator excuse my mistakes. Thank you

  3. You should follow churchill in twitting.

  4. Have been re-learning to read at length– “act of will” is exactly the right phrase.

    What you say about the end of a paragraph is also true with essays and short stories. Often the best short stories find the balance between ending and opening– and do it in a way that’s not gimmicky. Consider the ending to Amy Hempel’s “In the Graveyard Where Al Jolson is Buried,” or Nathan Englander’s “For the Relief of Unbearable Urges.” Edward P. Jones’ “A Rich Man,” almost all of Cheever, O’Connor, others. Z.Z. Packer. Baxter’s “Gryphon.”

    When I work with high school students writing college application essays, I encourage them to seek the same balance as they close their statements. Somewhere I read the phrase “parting gift,” and that is a phrase that most kids grasp intuitively. It can be much more powerful than a tidy–it-up summary. But it must be convincing and heartfelt.


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