Tips for Writers: Give the Gift of a New Paragraph


William Zinsser writes, “Keep your paragraphs short. Writing is visual—it catches the eye before it has a chance to catch the brain.”

Long paragraphs are visually ugly. Solid, uniform blocks of text, no matter how cleverly phrased, don’t engage readers like short paragraphs do.

You might be tempted to wantonly chop up a paragraph that’s too long. Unfortunately, doing so disrupts flow. So how can you keep your paragraphs short? It’s better to adapt a mindset of forward motion. Paragraphs represent ideas, and a new paragraph is a gift to the reader. It’s a chance to hear something new.

Readers are busy, so don’t expect them to trudge through a long paragraph just because you wrote it. Give them something fresh with each new paragraph, and keep the paragraphs short, so they continue to be drawn in.

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