By Natalie Bright
A recent eBook purchase proved to be very frustrating.
It wasn’t the writing, which was very descriptive, literary, and wonderful. It’s the formatting. It has no paragraphs. At least on the eBook version, words continue for screen after screen after screen, with no paragraph break. I’m not sure how that would translate to a printed page, but I can tell you as far as the Kindle version it’s just impossible to read. It feels like my brain and eyes are working extra hard.
Let’s turn to the experts.
Under Chapter II Elementary Principles of Composition, The Elements of Style (by Strunk and White), they describe the paragraph as thus: “The paragraph is a convenient unit; it serves all forms of literary work.”
- In dialogue, each change of the speaker (even if it’s a single word) begins with a new paragraph.
- Each change of topic needs a new paragraph.
- Begin the paragraph with a sentence that suggests the new topic, or helps with transition.
- The paragraph can begin with a concise statement with the purpose of presenting or holding together the details to follow.
- For narrative action, the paragraph gives the reader a stylistic pause, used to highlight importance of some detail of the action.
- Large blocks of print look formidable and daunting to a reader.
In summary, Strunk and White explains, “Moderation and a sense of order should be the main consideration in paragraphing.”
Enough said. Write on people.
REF: Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Fourth Edition, Longman 2000.