by Valerie Ipson
You may have noticed that the 52 weeks of lessons found in Mastering the Craft began with the basics...first, choosing your words wisely, and then on to constructing powerful sentences. Now we're experts (right?) so we're ready to tackle the almighty PARAGRAPH.
Wilbers compares it to taking a picture. We "decide what to place inside the frame and what to leave out" MTC, 194. In putting together a paragraph, it's the same...you choose the words and sentences and where to place them.
Our manuscripts are not emails where we might wander from thought to thought randomly. Instead, we use paragraphs crafted with a purpose. In fiction, they introduce and develop a thought, but also "mark shifts in scene and dialogue" MTC, 194. They compel a reader from thought to thought at a pace we as the author decides. Longer paragraphs slow the pace, while the short, choppy paragraph steps it up.
Often we take a photo that has too much sky or too much going on in the background and we have to crop it. Cropping is a great tool for writers, too. Give readers some white space around your paragraphs!