5 Paragraph Blunders to Avoid When Writing a Fictional Story

5 Paragraph Blunders to Avoid When Writing a Fictional Story

By on Dec 29, 2015 in Fiction, Writing & Editing


When writing fiction, one of the issues that arise is how to structure the paragraphs. This is very important because paragraphs help the reader to assimilate whatever is written better and to process the writing in their minds. This increases their comprehension and hence, enjoyment of the book. Whether beginners or not, some paragraph blunders are very common in fiction writing, even though they are simple enough to rectify. Below, we shall see how to avoid five of the most common paragraph blunders that authors make on a regular basis.

1. Long paragraphs without end in sight

This one is very basic, but is often overlooked, especially by beginners. As a writer, you get in the flow of the narrative and it takes you on and on. You don’t really stop to see if your work is stylistically good or not. The problem with long paragraphs is that they are basically unreadable. Many readers don’t even bother with a huge wall of text. It also indicates that the author is unable to process the various ideas he or she is trying to get across. All this can be avoided by keeping your paragraphs short and to the point, definitely not more than seven or eight sentences. It can be longer, provided that it is essential to your scene or action. The important thing is that the paragraph is coherent.

2. Irrelevant paragraphs

Just because one needs paragraphs, some writers make the mistake of breaking off as and when they think the paragraph is long enough. This doesn’t help at all. A paragraph indicates a pause in the story, after which the story either continues or takes a dramatic turn. So the paragraph must also be in tune with the actual story. The paragraph must be broken off at a point where it makes sense. If there is some change of dialogue, setting, scene or action, you start a new paragraph. Don’t break off a paragraph while in the midst of action or description. A new paragraph must be a gradual progress from one point to the next.

3. All speakers in the same paragraph

It is understandable that many authors don’t follow the simple rule of keeping one speaker only per paragraph. In many cases, each person speaks a single sentence and it appears redundant to just start a new paragraph to show the response of the next person. But this technique is very effective in keeping the reader engaged with the dialogue and conversation of the characters. Though technically not a blunder, it is a good idea to keep in mind that when you switch the dialogue or action from one person to the next, changing the paragraph makes for better reading. This helps you to move away from speech tags as well and makes it easier to replace them with action or emotion.

4. Change in setting not followed up

This should be pretty obvious to any writer worth their salt, but that’s not the case. A number of authors make the mistake of not breaking off and starting a new paragraph when the scene changes. The problem with this kind of text flow is that neither the author, nor the reader has an idea of where the pause in the writing should be. If you don’t pause between scenes, where do you pause? The answer is quite clear. Each change of setting requires a new paragraph. Make it a habit to avoid clubbing together different themes just because they are remotely connected to each other.

5. Not knowing how to give dramatic effect

Paragraphs can be very effectively used to highlight an action or circumstances. Authors often pass over these opportunities to show something up in their writing because it doesn’t follow a stylistic pattern. If you want to highlight one line in your paragraph, break off just before the line and make sure that the line you want to highlight is either in a separate paragraph of its own, or at the beginning of the next paragraph. This is recommended because readers tend to absorb the first and last sentences of the paragraph slightly more than the content in the middle.

The above tips should help you write in a stylistically better manner, and avoid major blunders in forming your paragraphs. With better paragraph structure, you automatically become a better and more coherent writer.

Image credit: Pixabay

Kavitha is a freelance content writer and French translator, and has been working in this field since 2008. She has degrees in computer applications and international business and has a background in business and international trade. She enjoys learning languages and is currently learning Japanese. Her interests vary from books and writing to travelling and history.


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