Friday, March 13, 2009

A Paragraph


Sure the writing of a paragraph sounds quite simple but you need to take into consideration the elements that make up a paragraph. When writing an essay, the paragraph will need to be broken up by spaces (online) so that it is easier viewing. When we clump it all together, it looks like just that, clumped together words. Writing clumped together words is quite simple, but to create a piece of readable work you’ll need elements and structure.

A paragraph begins with a basic topic sentence. This will introduce the main topic of the paragraph. The following sentences will develop from there, the sentences will relate to that very first sentence. This is what I like to call the “fleshing out” part. The final sentence will be linked back to the very first sentence making the paragraph whole.

When your subject changes, then a new paragraph begins. Sounds simple, does it not? It’s not. It is so easy to get off topic while writing a paragraph and this is why we need to hone the skills in writing so that we remain focused on what is filling the page.

I’m all for free writing. Just letting your muse flow like crazy and come back later to edit what you wrote. But you still need some form of structure in your paragraphs or you will be lost in the revision stages wondering what you wrote. Free writing doesn’t mean sloppy-I-can-do-anything-I-want writing, it just means you can write freely without inhibitions.

In writing a novel or short story, it is not going to be all paragraph writing. There will come a time when you have dialogue. Do you know that the dialogue has to be set in its own paragraph? Each part of the speech, even if it’s a “hi”, one word, it still needs its own separate paragraph. Now when dialogue and narrative are used together, you might want to look at the master’s and see their take on how they handle the situation in writing the short story or novel.

“You’re saying that I need to separate the talking part?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

“And I don’t clump it all together and mix all the characters up like popcorn on a griddle?”

The students were filled with questions. I’m sure glad I thought of this topic, “NO!”

If you mix the dialogue together, the reader will then lose his/her place and wonder who is doing the talking. We need to make it easiest on the reader so that they come away with an enjoyable experience not one of confusion. Isn’t that what we want for our reader? To give them the journey of a lifetime through our words?

“Yes ma’am!” They all said with glee.

“Well, what are you waiting for? GET WRITING!”


Anonymous said...

Hi Joni,

Delineating paragraphs can be a pain in the neck. As you've mentioned, it seems easy, switch topic? indent.
But sometimes a writer has to indent to break up the text and sometimes just to indicate a dialogue shift between characters. AND there's the other that sometimes gets my eyes rolling in opposite directions.

The paragraph which can include two people discussing something, same topic and same place--so you can keep it all together because it's a scene, albeit a very short one, consisting of dialogue, gestures and a wee bit of setting.


What a mix of rules. It's like reading those dang car GPS things. I've been taken miles out of my way by one of those things.

Fortunately, there was a McDonalds and we stopped for milkshakes while we got directions from another customer.


joni said...

Now I love the GPS, although frustrating and getting me lost all the time (like I'm supposed to KNOW 300 yds or 800 yds?)lol I always wind up in the right place, I think more of a womans instinct than a GPS!

I guess it's like writing. You need to know where it is you need to be, and by daggone it, your instinct will head you in the write (right) direction! Woohoo!


Thanks for visiting. See? I'm writing!!!! Woohooo!!!


Anonymous said...

You go girl!

Write your patoose off! And see how the spell check loves THAT word. LOL. Glad to read you.

I bet you're feeling real good right now. Just an open page and the muse in the seat beside you.

Much luck with your journey!


June said...

"Hi Joni!" said June.

"Where have you been keeping yourself." Joni sits down at the cafe table.

"Mentoring three classes, working too many hours for the day job, and finishing up my third writing class at UCLA." June sighs. "I know that's no excuse in not visiting..."

"I understand." Joni's face lights up. "You're here now."

See? I'm writing! (And using paragraphs!)


Take care,

joni said...


I've missed your words of wisdom!

You sound almost as busy as I *was* before some wise man said, "Put a hold on it!" I think he meant it, so I did. lol

That benning! A dear dear man!

Thanks for coming back, it's like you were never away!(but you were missed) :-)