Have you ever wondered why your writing was not good enough?
We’ve all done it.
You write and you write. You stress over your choice of words and your sentence structure. You’ve got the headlines and the subheads perfected. Your content is fantastic, something that deserves to get viral, deserves to be read by people. It’s helpful, informative and funny as well. It’s brilliant according to you, and yet no one bothers to read it (even if you market it like crazy).
So where’s the problem here? If there were one more sentence before the 2nd and 3rd sentences in the last paragraph, a sentence like this… “You write superb paragraphs.” Then it would explain the problem. Why, though?
It’s like this: a bricklayer can do his work brilliantly, but if his fundamental blocks – the bricks – are of poor quality, then how is his work and the result going to be perfect?
If the fundamental building blocks are of low quality, then how can the overall result be a masterpiece?
And what are the fundamental building blocks in writing? … Paragraphs.
So how do we get these paragraphs right so that we can speed on our way to other important things that matter? In short, how can we master the art of writing awesome paragraphs?
That’s what we’re here for. So let’s begin, class is in session!
This is how you can write great paragraphs
A paragraph is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. It consists of one or more sentences. – Wikipedia.
Now we know what a paragraph means. But a great paragraph is another thing entirely, just as great writing is different from just writing. That’s because a great paragraph has the following characteristics:
- A great paragraph is one that means something. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But if you write something which is meaningless for the vast majority of your readers (for e.g. writing in complex language when your readership can only understand simple words) then suffice it to say, that paragraph has failed. Bad. So the takeaway is: write paragraphs which mean something not only for you, but for your reader most.
- A great paragraph is short or long. What? Short or long both? Yes. The common advice is to write short paragraphs in web writing because of short reading spans, and that’s correct. But if you keep writing short paragraphs when the subject demands long ones, do you think it will work? Of course not. Takeaway: mix it up according to your needs.
- A great paragraph has one idea in it. One idea. That’s the important part. As we learned in the definition, a paragraph means one particular point or idea—not several. It’s one of the most common mistakes made by writers: writing a long paragraph with several points on it which ultimately guarantees that paragraph, and that entire writing piece’s failure. Don’t do that.
- A great paragraph is a piece of great writing. What are paragraphs made of? Sentences, and sentences themselves are made of words. If you don’t know how to write proper sentences, if you don’t know how to use the right words, if you don’t know how to engage the reader, use emotive language, and all the other nuts-and-bolts like spelling, grammar and punctuation, then how is your paragraph going to be a great one? Point is: great paragraphs are pieces of great writing.
- Great paragraphs are ordered and well-connected with each other. What makes a paragraph ordered? It’s the way you organize your points, your sentences. If they are ordered correctly, then only will the reader truly go with the flow and then only will the paragraph achieve greatness. It’s not just the sentences. A paragraph itself must be connected smoothly with the other ones, as in like links. Take a continuing paragraph up where the previous one has left off. Takeaway: connect them with transitioning (connector) words, in short link them with each other.
- Great paragraphs are those which the reader is hooked by. It’s not necessarily hooked. It can be engaged. It can be interested. The reader has to like them. That’s the most difficult part: write for your readers. You can write a masterpiece of a paragraph in your eyes and yet if the reader doesn’t like it, it won’t make an impact.
Dos of writing great paragraphs covered, read on for the don’ts…
Don’ts of writing great paragraphs
- Great paragraphs are not boring. You know hundreds and thousands of articles and books where the author is genuinely writing good stuff but writing it in such a way that it appears boring. (Case in point: textbooks). Are you going to do that? Of course not.
- Great paragraphs are not monotonous. Kind of a follow-up to the previous point, great paragraphs don’t hesitate in using emotive language, figures of speech and alternating length of paragraphs to make you hooked. They’re not saying the same thing over and over again in the same voice. What this means is they’re not afraid in mixing things up to make their paragraphs spicier.
- Great paragraphs are not fluffy, overwritten, full of adjectives and adverbs. As Strunk & White says, omit needless words. Needless words = most of the adverbs and adjectives. So if you write in such a way like this: “This software is awesome! It’s mind-blowingly extremely brilliantly good…”, then the reader stops paying any attention. Takeaway: cut all the unnecessary adverbs and adjectives like very, basically, just, etc. in your paragraph.
Are these the only paragraph writing tips? Of course not. These tips are only a few of the overall picture and I’m sure that the readers have more. In case you have any more points to add, praise, criticism or simple discussion, don’t hesitate in leaving a comment below.
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