In Praise of Paragraphs

Is it just me?

Am I alone in this?

Am I the only one who knows how to use the return carriage?  The “enter” key?

Paragraphs.  I need paragraphs.

Reading a post, or a story, or anything at all where there is one long block of text makes e cray-cray.

Visually.

Conceptually.

Textually.

For those who don’t know what that means, here is the Miriam Webster definition:

Simple Definition of paragraph

  • : a part of a piece of writing that usually deals with one subject, that begins on a new line, and that is made up of one or more sentences

Perhaps it is my age.  Or the fact that I write for a living.  But every time I see a blog post that is one loooooooooooooooooooong paragraph, I look elsewhere for entertainment or enlightenment.

 

 

 

73 Comments

Filed under ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Humor, In praise of paragraphing, Return carriage, Things that make me nuts, Writing technique

73 responses to “In Praise of Paragraphs

  1. Sp*somewhere. Sigh. If only I could spell lol

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes to the space or I leave as well, too much to wade through when I am trying to read so many blogs. I read somwhere that posts over 300 words tend not to be read as much as shorter posts. Poor “paragraphing” may be the reason why.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do love a good paragraph. It’s hard to put my finger on the exact appeal of a bit of white space, but my eyes are definitely drawn to those breaks as rest stops.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As Strunk and White said, “Make the paragraph the unit of your writing.” It is a lesson more need to learn.

    Charming post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Random 5 for May 22 – Ponds, clientele, paragraphs, blogs, endings | Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

  6. For me, it depends. If I were reading a blog with one long paragraph, I might balk. Unless it happened to be really creative and interesting.

    I think I’m more forgiving when it comes to reading books, fiction in particular. Jose Saramago doesn’t write books full of paragraphs, he writes 200-300 page long paragraphs, with an occasional line break. Cormac McCarthy writes paragraphs that go on for pages.

    But, for the most part, I agree…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. For many years now I’ve been having a torrid love affair with the short, staccato paragraph.

    Then again, I’ve been seeing run-on sentences on the side (hey, it was good enough for Faulkner) and it’s been getting pretty hot and breathless.

    The point is to punctuate elegantly and add a new paragraph when you change action or want to interrupt the flow, which may be often or rarely… Me, I can’t keep a thought in my head for very long so my paragraphs run short, but some people can fill a page or more with just one thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your comment!

      There are some folks who can have a long or pages-long paragraph and get away with it. But very few. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts that are long solid blocks with justified margins. I grumbled about them, but then decided that I just have to stop reading them. It is just too difficult to wade through them for the nuggets of gold/wisdom/humor.

      (I have a secret — I HATE Faulkner. But not because of the run-ons. It’s because I never have a clue what is happening in his stories. While I do like to dig for deeper meaning in a novel, I don’t think one should be left uncertain when the major character fills his pockets with rocks and walks into the Charles River! But I was …)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I’m probably guilty of the other extreme: short sentences/paragraphs.

    But it helps so much with timing!

    Right?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Large blocks of text bother me too, and I try to avoid them. It’s one reason I insert images. It forces me to break it up. I do need to work on being more succinct, in writing and in speech. I chatter too much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I hear you. Earlier this year one of my students handed up a page long paragraph. Let’s just say that words were said.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You are soooooo right. White space particularly on a printed page seems to be disappearing, maybe because of publishing costs???

    And what the heck is happening to quotation marks? It seems to be the new vogue to leave them out. Blah. I still love the Oxford comma.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. When I look back at my earliest posts I am astounded at the density of some of my paragraphs. I am still struggling to break them up more without losing the purpose and meaning. I admire Victo for her ability to get separate ideas to coalesce in that way.

    A nice reminder to all bloggers, Elyse.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Big blocks are overwhelming and give me headaches. I often wonder if folks who post like that do it on a cellphone. On my big desktop screen I can clearly see the white space. (or not)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes the headaches!

      A woman I took an online writing course with (and who suggested I blog with Word Press) wrote all in one paragraph. Stream of consciousness — she also didn’t edit her own work. She had a lot of good stories, and a lot of good ideas, word plays, etc. But I couldn’t get beyond the block. Because of headaches!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am surprised that no one called her on it. It’s one of the first things I learned when blogging. I found that I would often put aside “thick” or overly long posts to be read “later.” (and we all know what happens then) The other thing that gets me is unnecessary details that clutter.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I mentioned it, as did our writing teacher. It was her style though and she liked it.

          Details I don’t mind so much — I can skim!

          Liked by 1 person

        • I think about this every time I write an exceedingly (and self-indulgently!) long post — how it’s the sort of piece I’d skip, if someone else wrote it. :/ Doesn’t stop me from writing them, but at least I feel a pang of guilt over it…right? And, to Elyse’s gripe, I DO make frequent hard returns!

          Which also serve to make a long piece look even longer. *sigh*

          ‘S why I try to intersperse enough short-n-funny drive-by posts into the mix. My way of apologizing for the tome-length posts!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t care what my words do… as long as I can use my ‘…’s’…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s not just you. Great reminder to all of us that our eyes and brains need some calming, restful blank spaces to make the words even that much more special.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Agreed about the paragraphs, Elyse. No use telling that to Herman Melville though, but then, he’s dead anyway.

    Also, allow me to extol the lowly comma, which, if you will note, is employed usefully here and in the paragraph above. Commas are just as important for clarity, I submit. Using them justifies care, as I learned from Mary Norris.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. When I’m reading a book or magazine printed on paper, I don’t mind if authors are stingy with white space since that saves trees.

    But, in cyber space, where there’s no reason to be so stingy, I want to see lots and lots of white space.

    On a related note, I refuse to read blogs that print white/light letters on black/dark backgrounds. That’s back ass ward.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. It can be annoying if not done right. But I don’t know what right is, when it comes to style. I’ve never taken Strunk and White seriously. For me, if it’s entertaining, that’s all that matters. But how to define entertainment, I haven’t a clue.

    Like

  19. Holly

    I always read blocks of texts like that in an angry tone, like the writer is on such a rampage nothing was going to stop the words from flowing, not even a line break!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Yes !!!
    And…thank you. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sing it Sister! As a reviewer, if I open a book and see unbroken blocks of dense text, I close it again and cancel the review.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A block post is bad, but a block book? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And yet I’ve gotten several. Plus entire manuscripts without punctuation. I think they consider themselves avant but I say upfront that I won’t review anything that hasn’t been professionally edited. And I doubt any professional editor would pass on those ee cummings wannabes.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. With you all the way on this one! As a reader I need air, in the form of white space, otherwise I get claustrophobic. And don’t get me stared on capital letters, those essential sign posts that show us the way around paragraphs.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Excellent! Too many large blocks of type and long paragraphs, and I move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Often I find that they are written by folks with something to say … but I guess I no longer have the energy to separate the wheat from the chaff — that’s the writer’s job!

      Like

  24. Paul

    You

    tell

    ’em

    Elyse.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. It isn’t just you. I remember when my 10th grade English teacher made us write a many word sentence with commas, semicolons and the like. Mine clocked in at 52 words, but I wondered what the point was.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I usually like to leave a lot of room for dramatic effect (because my blog is supes serious, as you know!). Tonight I literally posted a pic with two-three sentences, and was actually appreciating that it would be so quick and easy to read compared to previous posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Paragraphs help to organize thoughts…helps readers to understand better. Thanks for reminding us all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  28. You’re definitely not alone. I like white space and short paragraphs too. One long block is too intimidating to get through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paragraphs make things so much better organized — it’s easier to put things in the right order as a writer and as a reader you can hone in on the important stuff.

      I think I’m going to just stop trying with the folks who don’t use paragraphs. I’ll follow others instead!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Oh yes, I love writing long sentences! Sometimes they add up to long paragraphs. But I long ago learned about the dangers of the wall of text. I try hard not to impose the wall on my readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think you do.

      But sometimes a long paragraph is necessary and appropriate. One thought to a paragraph — if it’s a long or complex thought, well then, it’s a long and complex paragraph.

      That is quite different from having a bunch of thoughts all jumbled together, in no particular order, leaving the reader to sort it out. Or, in my new way of blog reading, not sorting it out.

      Like

  30. It’s not just you. On the other hand, depending on the medium … paragraphs can be too short … as a sentence or two. … but (in my opinion) is only done for the eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I write like you do. Lots of space. Calming to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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