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Tip of The Day #13: Paragraphs, please

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White addresses the use of  paragraphs thus, " a convenient unit; it serves all forms of literary work. ...a paragraph may be of any length-a single, short sentence, or a passage of great duration. As a rule, single sentences should not be written or printed as paragraphs."

To paraphrase the authors, they go on to say that each character's speech should be a single paragraph and that sometimes authors will use short, rapid fire sentences to achieve a certain effect. "But remember, too that firing off many short paragraphs in quick succession can be distracting." 

I have noticed a trend lately toward using the one line paragraph as a device intended to add drama or emphasis of a series of events in a story. While it is effective, and according to The Elements of Style, it can be correct, it is also very distracting when used too often throughout a book. The story begins to feel like a play by play report of a sports event rather than a narrative with emotion and drama. 

Use the one sentence paragraph sparingly.  

Think of one sentence paragraphs as the seasoning in a great stew. Just a little bit makes it interesting. Use too much and the stew is ruined. 

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