I went to a technical writing program last week that, at one point, raised the question of how many sentences should make up a paragraph.
“One,” a woman called.
“Four or five,” I said, as I had been taught since grade school.
The one-sentence paragraph advocate was asked to explain herself (ooh, subversive use of the passive voice; now you’ll never know who led that program).
She keeps a blog, she explained, and for web reading, you lose a reader’s attention after the first sentence.
Is that so, I thought.
I am at least one person who reads multi-sentence paragraphs on the web…all the time.
I also participate in wildly popular communities that make reckless use of lengthy paragraphs.
I wanted to see her blog.
But since I did not get her name, all I can do is try it out myself.
Ten paragraphs in, I have to say it’s not quite as ridiculous as I first expected; but it’s all about your topic of discussion, your intent in writing, and your ability to vary sentence lengths.
This may be a decent means of storytelling; but I wouldn’t want to stick with it for an in-depth discussion of current policy issues, or even book reviews.
(Faulkner — along with certain other pretentious and overblown [heh] white dudes, living and dead, who are much vaunted in the college literature classroom — would have no problem with this restriction, but even though at least in my time, just four years ago mind you, nearly everyone still used ye olde print textbooks that of course are not screen-based, yet I assure you that some of these authors sorely tested our patience with their never-ending sentences and paragraphs; now why didn’t their editors speak up and lay some one-sentence rules down, saying, “here now, don’t you know you lose readers by going on and on like that, why, get to the point, old man”?)
I find that everything has a more poetic — and sardonic — flavor, in one-sentence blog style.
Why, I might even call this creative nonfiction.
Perhaps this is the route to learning how to write short stories again.
The one-sentence/paragraph short story.