1. xunrequited.lovex
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    xunrequited.lovex New Member

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    Paragraphing / Description

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by xunrequited.lovex, Jul 9, 2007.

    Hello again!

    I have been having a common problem in my few, but determined, years of writing. The problem: when do you create a new paragraph?

    For instance, say you are describing a prison. You want to put into detail the bars of the cell, the dull lighting, the stench, and of course your own character's emotions as (s)he stalks down the aisle. Yet, I find myself in a pickle. I put so much description into my writing that I feel at times it bores the reader. Nevertheless, I know that there are some readers that enjoy description. All the same, I'm still adding so much of my own visuals. I get carried away. When I want to start a new paragraph, I have little knowledge of where to begin next.

    An example: "My breath hitches in my throat. I feel the eyes of my inmates scoring my clothes, penetrating the thin cloth and tearing into my very flesh. They are like firey demons, lurking behind their bars. No chains could hold these monsters back. Sooner or later, they would have me. I can still feel those eyes peeling me apart, not undressing me, but baring like fangs at the pink triangle on my sleeve. They foam like rabid dogs, they reach out like skeletons eager to reattach their flesh by using my own.

    Their voices vibrate on my tympanums. "Filthy queer!" I flinch. "Get outta here you homophile!" Another shrinking motion and the pain rushes to my cranium. Blood rolls down my neck, my vision blurs. A heavy blow from my guard and I learn to ignore the comments bombarding my senses. I cannot help but feel dirtied, and I itch to wipe the foreign spit off of my cheek in which another prisoner, donned in a red triangle, unleashed upon me."


    Was I right to change the paragraph from the gaze of the prisoner's eyes to the voices? Was there anywhere else I should have made another paragraph?

    This is probably the simplest problem, but I've been fussing over it for years. I disapprove of outlines of any kind. I feel they ruin the flow of the writing. It makes it boring. It may suffice for a paper, but not for a true novel. I've once thought of listing off the kind of things I want to describe, but each time I run across something I wished I'd added and when I go back to fit it in the one detail throws the whole flow off.

    I'm rather stuck and terribly embarrassed to admit that I have a problem with something that appears so easy to fix. I'm always second-guessing myself. I'm so very sorry. This must seem so foolish.

    Is there anything I can do to improve my confidence when I make a new paragraph? Is there something I could improve on in my descriptions that would allow this task far easier to endure?

    Thank you so much for your time.

    :love: :love: :love:
    Unrequited Love
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Where you've put the paragraph break seems fine to me. I think the official stance on paragraphs is that you start a new paragraph when:

    • Someone different to the current speaker speaks
    • The focus changes
    • The scene changes (although technically this would warrant a blank line as well)

    It doesn't really matter how long a paragraph is, to be honest. If it feels right to you then have a long paragraph, and the same for short paragraphs. (I have, in the past, had paragraphs consisting of one word, and ones spanning nearly an A4 page). The ideal way to accustom yourself to paragraphing is the same as for the other aspects of writing, I'm afraid: read and write, as much as you can. Eventually you'll start to pick it up, and become more confident in feeling your way around paragraphing.

    I hope that was of some help :)
     
  3. xunrequited.lovex
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    xunrequited.lovex New Member

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    Oh...
    That makes splendid sense! Thank you so much. I'm always so self-conscious about my writing to the fact that I fret so much over it. But you're right. If I just keep reading and writing the paragraph will feel comfortable to me.

    Oh thanks so much!
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Not a problem. I'm happy to help :)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Basically, a paragraph should express one concept. That also describes a sentence, but each sentence in a paragraph should elaborate on, or otherwise support, the principal idea of the paragraph, which is usually contained in the first sentence.
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    That's what I was going for, Cogito. Well put.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you need to separate the dialog... should be indented, but here we have to use line breaks...

     

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