Have a question about long paragraphs

Are there any set rules as to how long a paragrapgh should be when writing a fictional short story. A reader wrote the following about my excerpts: "Your writing is clear and engaging - although I think you can split your long paragraphs into shorter, more easily ingested nuggets."

 

Would appreciate any feedback.

 

Thank you.

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Replies
  • Hi Kimberly: Thank you. It has been so long since I have been in school that I can't remember if a teacher ever mentioned how long a paragraph should be. :) Since I never took a course in creative writing, I am learning a lot from authors like you. Have a great day.
  • When I was studying creative writing, we were told to keep long paragraphs down to a minimum. The problem is that readers get lost or bored when reading a paragraph that is too long.

    There are no real rules for how long a paragraph should be. My rule of thumb is that when I change the topic, I start a new paragraph, which works when writing essays and short fiction. 

     

    For example, if you have your character thinking about a problem and then her thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of a friend, I would recommend starting a new paragraph. 

     

    Also, keep in mind that most people can deal with 5-7 sentences in a paragraph before they start skimming.

  • Hi Mickie: Thank you for that tidbit. When I read books in the past, I never thought about the length of paragraphs. I just read the book for enjoyment. Now that I am a new author on the block, I am more aware of the length of paragraphs. When I went to look back on authors who wrote in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, there were some pretty lengthy paragraphs, much longer than mine. Nevertheless, when I go over my two books, some of the paragraphs are long. With my fourth book, I have shortened the paragraphs. Again thank you.
  • Vivienne,

     

    I'm very interested in the answers you'll receive to your question about paragraph length. I don't know about set rules, but I operate under the 3-4 sentence rule. A critique of my work, though, stated my sentences were too long. If my sentences were too long, then, my paragraphs were pretty lengthy.

     

    

    Mickie Sherwood
    ~~Sweet and spicy romance – A heartbeat away~~
    Louisiana Lady