4-Step Guide to Mastering Paragraphs to Write a Better Book

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We’ve all read bad writing and hope to avoid producing it ourselves. Bad writing is clunky and awkward; it lacks a clear point and certainly doesn’t entice you to keep reading. Much of it has to do with paragraphs, and while most of us can recognize a poorly written one, crafting a good one is something else entirely. Learning how to write effectively requires considerable practice, but once you master it, you’ve gained a truly invaluable skill—both for your writing career and general life.

There is no surefire way to write a perfect paragraph, but there are approaches that can help you hone your writing skills. Every paragraph is different, and you may be able to break the rules sometimes, but only if you really know what you’re doing. You’ll also need a lot of practice to get there. 

Below, we share our top tips for writing strong paragraphs that will keep readers hooked. If you need some help with your manuscript, check out our paragraph and sentence editing to get your book in top-notch shape.

1. Have a purpose for each paragraph

Every paragraph should be there for a reason. It needs to make a critical point, deliver essential context for background, move the story forward, reveal something about a character, or have some other compelling reason for existing. Some paragraphs may find their raison d'être exclusively in literary value—for example, paragraphs consisting of a single sentence or even a phrase can add suspense to the storytelling if done correctly. If it’s not moving things forward, it’s just filler, and filler will bore your readers.

2. Make your point once

Each paragraph needs a purpose, a point to make or a story element or character to drive forward. While your readers need those crucial points, they only need them once. Paragraphs that repeat the same point (even if presented in different ways) are a big no-no. Belaboring the point will only bore the audience. The only exception is when the repetition is explicit and adds literary value, providing insight into a character’s headspace or otherwise engendering a specific and intentional atmosphere. However, in order to pull this off, you must know what you’re doing.

3. Keep it simple

While each paragraph definitely needs a reason to exist, it only needs one reason. Avoid making two separate points in a single paragraph or presenting multiple revelations about a character. If you try to do too much in one paragraph, you run the risk of confusing your readers. In general, you want to avoid paragraphs that are too long by default since they can be intimidating for the audience.

4. Vary your paragraph lengths

Have you ever encountered a long block of text? How about five long paragraphs or several single-sentence paragraphs in a row? This kind of structure is not pleasing to your readers. Having paragraphs of varying length is not only about visual aesthetics but also about the way your audience absorbs the text. The way paragraphs are structured on the page changes how the words and sentences flow on the page and through your readers’ heads. For a good read, you need paragraphs of varying lengths, which will allow your story to unfold more smoothly and naturally. 

To expand on this a bit further, it’s also a good writing technique to vary the length of sentences within a paragraph. While there is nothing wrong with developing a rhythm to your writing using particular sentence lengths, occasional variations can draw attention to a certain sentence or word. This works in much the same way as paragraphs—several sentences of similar length can get monotonous, and you need some long, some short, and some medium-length sentences to spice things up and maintain the smooth flow.

One last word of advice: It’s okay not to write something perfectly the moment you put pen to paper (or cursor to screen). Crafting a great paragraph on the first attempt is no easy feat. Remember that even the best writers need to review, revise, and get outside feedback—no one publishes their first draft, so don’t beat yourself up and just write.

When you’re ready to have your book polished to a shine, check out how you can hire a professional editor. Need an overall manuscript critique instead? We can do that too, along with many other editorial services.

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