October 15, 2013

Paragraphs - a writing experiment

Dear M,

Let me share one of the experiments I had done with my writing, to understand how people like to read.

I did this with a couple of articles I wrote (elsewhere, not on this blog). For the time being, let us assume that the topics were interesting and that the writing was good. (Always good to set the premise!)

In some of those articles, I wrote in long paragraphs. Each paragraph contains about ten or twelve sentences (or whatever it took for the point to be conveyed).

In others, I restricted each paragraph to two sentences, and in some cases three short ones. Like this blog post. (My previous posts have all been full of long paragraphs).

What I noticed is that, some people read both, irrespective of the length or the kinds of paragraphs, but many read the short-para ones and ignore the long-para ones. Very obvious, isn't it?

Long, thick paragraphs make us wary. If we are not in a too-deep-reading mood, we tend to skip lengthy paras. Short paras make us feel that we can handle it.

So it is with stories that have a lot of conversation in them. Each person's dialog is a separate line, so they will look like short paragraphs. It will look easier to read. It will make us curious and interested.

Books that have plenty of description in them about nature and a person's character bore some readers. They are the ones that dislike the long paragraphs.

So our writing speaks more than we expect it to speak - if we are a descriptive writer, our writing will have a lot of long paragraphs; if we are a light writer, we'll have a lot of shorter ones.


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