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  1. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    Paragraph confusion

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jud, May 25, 2012.

    Hi, just wondering if there's a hard and fast rule for the use of paragraphs.

    When I'm reading a novel the use of paragraphs seem so natural that I don't even notice them, but when I'm writing it's a different story and I'm constantly stalling to ask myself whether what I'm about to write should be a new paragraph or not. I thought the general rule of thumb was that a new subject meant a new paragraph, but studying novels has told me this clearly isn't the case.

    Any tips that would help me know when I need to start a new paragraph would be most welcome.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A paragraph should really expand on the first sentence of the paragraph. However, in fiction a paragraph is just a group of sentences that more or less fit together. Paragraphs are therefore much more casual in fiction than in more formal types of writing.

    One guideline you should follow in fiction is that in dialogue, start a new paragraph for each new speaker. One speaker can have tow or more consecutive paragraphs, but two characters should not appear as subjects in the same paragraph if the paragraph contains dialogue.

    You will see that violated occasionally, but it's best to follow the rule strictly.
     
  3. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    Thanks, Cogito. I knew the rule about separate paragraphs for a dialogue, but it was the other stuff I was wondering about. However, your guidelines have been very helpful, especially the one regarding paragraphs in fiction being more casual than in formal writing.
     

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