Knowing when to begin again

If you were to write about the northern hairy-nosed wombat, each paragraph would reveal something new about it.

A paragraph contains one facet of a subject and it may consist of one word, one sentence or be much longer.

What kind of creature is it and what does it look like? (first paragraph).

Where does the northern hairy-nosed wombat live? (second paragraph).

What do they eat? (third paragraph).

Why is it rare to see one? (fourth paragraph).

When you have said all you want to say about the northern hairy-nosed wombat, you should re-read your paragraphs. Would more paragraph breaks benefit the reader? Do each of the paragraphs contain information that is only about that particular aspect of the wombat?

Remember that long blocks of text may discourage readers. Each paragraph break provides an opportunity for a reader to pause, however briefly, and consider what they have read.

Paragraph breaks also serve to break up the elements of a setting and to provide clarity in dialogue so that the reader knows which person is speaking.

“Want some tea, Frank?”

“No thanks, Sadie.”

“Hot chocolate?”

“Uh … no.”


“No, I’m good.”

“Sweet dreams, then.”

Just as short sentences pick up the pace in writing, so does the frequency of paragraph breaks.

There was blinding light.

Then an ear-splitting noise.

And the pain was relentless.

“Mrs. Taylor?”

“What?” she whispered weakly.

Frequent paragraph breaks move the reader along quickly.

And it is important how you begin each paragraph.

Use the first sentence or two of each paragraph to point the reader in the right direction. It should draw the leader into the paragraph.. It is important to vary the style of opening sentences in paragraphs.

As well as following guidelines, there is an intuitiveness about determining where sentence breaks should occur. What effect are you wanting to achieve?

In What’s Up Yukon, paragraph breaks are frequent and paragraphs may be broken into two or more paragraphs, even when it is not technically required. With two-inch columns, a long paragraph is just too dense with words.

Even the indents that signal a new paragraph act as hooks to keep the reader reading.

When I was little, my step-father repeated what he believed to be sage advice, “Better to remain quiet and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.” (Advice I often chose to ignore.)

Try to remain consistent in paragraph style. If you have longer paragraphs throughout and then throw in a one-word paragraph or a one- or two-sentence paragraph, you will notice how it grabs the limelight.


If a showstopper is what is called for, that is a great way to achieve it.

Paragraphs are like the links of a chain: each link is separate but contributes to the strength of the chain.

Now, who wants to see a northern hairy-nosed wombat?

Here you go:

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