1. shatterrenamon
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    shatterrenamon New Member

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    When how long is paragraph?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by shatterrenamon, Dec 12, 2012.

    I had been writing for a long time, but I never gotten the hang of some grammical items. There is many questions but the most important one is, how long is a paragraph? I was told it's five sentences long, and that each paragraph must be broken with these large gaps between them. Is this right or wrong?

    Thank you.
     
  2. PaleWriter
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    PaleWriter Member

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    Nope. It's neither right or wrong.
    Writers have a variety of tools at their disposal to express themselves.
    Sentence and paragraph length are just two critical elements.
    It's kinda like a symphony... many parts all working together to create the whole.

    There are no FIRM rules about sentence/paragraph length.
    Generally, shorter sentences/paragraphs tend to speed up my scenes.
    I use longer, more intricate sentences/paragraphs to craft a framework of description or give background.

    It also depends on the type of writing and the demographics of the expected readership.
    Hope this was helpful.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It can be as long (or short) as you want it to be.

    Where did you hear this "rule"? And what do you mean by "large gaps"?
     
  4. SGTGerman
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    SGTGerman Member

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    I was taught this when I was at school, probably just as a rough guide. I was also told that paragraphs were seperated as follows

    - In hand writing, the first line indented.
    - On computer, a one space gap. No indent.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    for a ms to be submitted to a print publisher, there must be no gaps between paragraphs unless a line break is called for, in which case the standard is to place a single # in the center of the line, leave no blank lines other than between chapters... and all paragraphs must be indented .5"... even the first one of each chapter...

    if submitting to an online venue, that is when you don't indent and use a single line space between paragraphs, instead...

    and there is no rule for length of chapters... each one should be as long as it needs to be and/or as long as the author's writing style calls for...
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    For academic writing, paragraphs tend to be about five sentences long (of course they can be longer, also). I guess this is why your teacher taught you this "rule". You can't have a one-sentence paragraph dangling off in the middle of nowhere in an essay written in good academic style. For fiction, whatever works, use it--you are free.
     
  7. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I learned in school that a paragraph should be at least 5 sentences.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not true, even for formal academic writing. In formal essays, the first sentence of a paragraph states the point, and the remaining sentences reinforce that point.

    Some instructors suggest that the paragraph begin with a statement, followed by three sentences, each containing a supporting piece of evidence, and wrapped by a conclusion that restates the paragraph's point. That makes each paragraph a mini-essay in itself. But it is by no means a rule.

    In fiction, the structure of a paragraph is far more flexible. The only more or less firm requirement for a paragraph is that a paragraph containing dialogue should end when the focus shifts away from that character in that moment. That applies even if the paragraph consists of a single sentence, or sentence fragment, of dialogue.

    In fiction a paragraph should consist of one idea, description, activity, etc. But what constitutes a cohesive paragraph is very often a judgement call.
     

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