I got an apparently weird trick I swear by to format my writing for impact.
It actually started from a bit of writing advice from Derek Sivers – who has gradually become my main source of inspiration for most things I do in life #mancrush
That is, when you’re writing, start each sentence on a separate line.
I LOVE that tip. It helps you make your prose concise and sharp.
But one bit was missing according to my OCD-inclined brain.
Where do I put the double new line?
That is, where do I create a new paragraph?
There’s obviously a grammar rule for that.
“Have a paragraph for each IDEA.” That is, each paragraph is a cluster of sentences related to the same idea.
But I don’t care much about grammar.
My goal is not to stick to some sterile “grammatically correct” convention. Leave that to the grammar nazis.
My goal is to maximize reader comprehension and enjoyment while enticing him to keep reading.
So I thought about this. And here’s the rule of thumb I came up with.
First of all, I postpone that decision to the EDIT phase.
When writing, I don’t even think about it. I just write one sentence per line and get my thoughts down. Anything else would be a distraction.
Then, once I got my thoughts on the page and I’m editing them, I use paragraphs to insert pauses.
Let me stress that:
I use paragraphs as pauses.
Do you see how, when a paragraph ends, we intuitively pause a bit there?
THAT is what I use paragraphs for.
If I want the reader to pause on a sentence, I start the next one in a new paragraph.
Doing it this way lets me emphasize what I want the reader to pay particular attention to.
It gives me control over the reader’s experience, allowing me to tweak it just the way I want him to experience my writing.
Reread this post consciously looking at how I used paragraphs and see if you like the effect.
And if you do, give it a spin next time you’re writing 😉
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