1. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Paragraph length too long?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Cave Troll, Jul 5, 2017.

    I would like to get a broader opinion on what constitutes
    a paragraph being too long.

    I have been informed that some of mine are a bit long,
    and that small and concise is the way to go.

    Problem is I use FPS to convey the world/environment
    and try to use the MCs eyes to tell it on top of everything
    else going on.
    So when I say too long, I am not talking a full page, but at
    the largest maybe a quarter at the most (.doc page).

    Having said all that what are your thoughts on paragraph
    length in relation as a reader when it comes down to it?
    Is there such a thing in your 'reader' side that says that
    a paragraph is too long?

    Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. :supersmile:
     
  2. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Hello Cave,

    My personal feelings on the subject are this: it depends on the context of the situation. In Mystics, I have a 1000 word sentence, but I do this because of the situation at that moment: The MC is faced with a monster beyond human comprehension and is overwhelmed by the sight of it (just like how the reader is overwhelmed by the 1000 word sentence.)

    I only do this once, and it is at the Climax of the story.

    In essence: I try to have my sentence length and content match what the character is experiencing at that moment. For the most part, my sentences run 15ish words.

    This is just my personal method, and every needs to discover their own.

    Hope this helps.

    -OJB.
     
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Depends. Each paragraph is supposed to be a "thought" and the necessary commentary for each thought. The paragraph break tells the reader that a new thought is coming. Might be long, might be short. Depends on content, cadence, verbosity, etc....

    Example?
     
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  4. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Opps, I just realized you said paragraph not sentence.

    I Average around 55 words per Paragraph.
     
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  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Placing my shots strategically, so I do not have to rely on the AAMs to take it out. I land a few bolts to the ‘head’ of the enemy frame, causing him to fire blindly and wander around aimlessly. Rolling a few meters to my left, I see the cockpit open revealing the pilot inside. Big mistake, should have turned and ran. Unable to properly sight me, he fires wildly with the large assault rifle in my general direction. The sand around me explodes wildly into the air as the ballistics bite into it. Holding my position, I listen to the loud barking of the enemies weapons, and the explosions of the artillery, missiles, and mortars in the exchange. I spot a felled Uldivarion frame on fire off to my left. I will attend to them once my target is down. Popping over the dune, I let out a burst at the the enemy frame only a hundred meters or so out. The large alloy bolts tear through the soft pilots body, causing the frame to fall over awkwardly with its mangled pilot dead.

    (I hope this helps, mind you not all are quite this big.
    and a very few that are maybe a third larger.)
     
  6. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    As a writer, I tend to break paragraphs on a page the way I like to read. I purposely mix paragraph sizes. Sometimes a long paragraph is required. But follow a long paragraph with a couple of shorties. If there are only two, or worse, one paragraph on the page, before tackling the page, I gasp air, as if holding my breath before taking a deep dive under water. I read as though I'm speaking. A page is less intimidating with some white space mixed in with the words. Maybe it's just me.
     
  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    @Walking Dog while I have seen the transfer of .doc to whatever medium, I have
    never shied away from the 2 paragraph pages. But I have read all types of
    books varying in age from The Count of Monte Cristo, to more modern stuff and
    seen a slew of varieties on the page.
     
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    @OJB 1k sentence. That must be hard not curb it down properly.
    But I can appreciate your reasoning behind it. :)
     
  9. Laurus

    Laurus Disappointed Idealist Contributor

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    I learned that paragraph lengths should be shortened or lengthened to control pacing. So if it's tense and high energy, short paragraphs and lots of line breaks theoretically help the reader engage more with that tension. I say "in theory" because I can't actually bring to mind any examples right now, but perhaps someone better read can.
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I think that would benefit from being broken up, for sure.

    Action can be kind of like dialogue, where clarity is enhanced with breaks for each speaker/actor. So if you started a new paragraph each time a different person is acting, or each time a separate action begins, I think your writing would be more clear.

    Like (and just for my own sanity I have to take out some of the fragments and do a bit of tidying, but obviously you can put it all back in if it's important to you):

    I place my shots strategically so I don't have to rely on the AAMs to take it out. I land a few bolts to the ‘head’ of the enemy frame, causing him to fire blindly and wander around aimlessly.

    Rolling a few meters to my left, I see the cockpit open, revealing the pilot inside. Big mistake: he should have turned and run. Unable to properly sight me, he fires wildly with the large assault rifle in my general direction.

    The sand around me explodes wildly into the air as the ballistics bite into it. I hold my position and listen to the loud barking of the enemies' weapons and the explosions of the artillery, missiles, and mortars in the exchange. I spot a felled Uldivarion frame on fire off to my left. I will attend to them once my target is down.

    Popping over the dune, I let out a burst at the the enemy frame only a hundred meters or so out. The large alloy bolts tear through the soft pilot's body, causing the frame to fall over awkwardly with its mangled pilot dead.​

    I don't think there's anything wrong with long paragraphs necessarily, but if they cover a lot of distinct actions I think they're better broken up.

    ETA: I don't know what FPS is, so I'm not sure how it would feed into this.
     
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  11. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    The paragraph isn't particularly long but it certainly is wordy. And given that it's an action scene you would definitely benefit from breaking it up. Right now it reads as more of an analytical aftermath than a scene of gathering tension. You could tighten it up by whacking some of the adverbs and redundancies.
     
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  12. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Well commonly it is First Person Shooter, but in my context
    I am using it as First Person Perspective.

    But I like the direction your going in in terms of weed whacking, along
    with @Homer Potvin .
    I find that given the particular character in question analyzes everything
    given their nature, it will be a bit hard to trim that part out of their 'voice'.
    I don't ask others to eradicate character traits just because I find them
    not to my taste. :)

    Reduncies can be fixed. It is still in first draft format.
     
  13. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    No one's asking you do to anything. You asked us. :)
     
  14. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    I asked a much more in general question, and was asked to supply a sample.
    I asked in your mind as a reader do you believe that their is such a thing
    as too long a paragraph. Not edit whatever else I post as example. (But I will take
    it for what it is worth, and I find it to be interesting and inciteful. Helpful even.)
    But my original question is on paragraph length being too long, in your opinion
    as a reader. :)
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I'm done with you. :)
     
  16. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    This might be one of those times where you want to drop voice in favor of action in order to build excitement. Like Tom Cruise said in Top Gun, "You don't have time to think up there. If you think, you're dead."
     
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  17. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    How does that work in first person? Third is out of body and
    you can skirt the issue of account to a better degree.
     
  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Heh, this is why I don't write in first. The simple answer would be to write about the stimuli only and drop the what the character analyzes/thinks about it. You don't have to drop all of it (or any of it if you don't like) but if you're worried about paragraph length and flow the short, rapid fire sentences and paragraphs will always be more effective.
     
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