300 Days of Better Writing

March 8, 2010

One Paragraph One Idea

Filed under: WritingExcellence — preciseedit @ 9:32 am

 The paragraph is the basic unit for expressing an idea, and each paragraph should only express one idea. This has two implications for effective writing.

First Reason: This helps you determine what to write. You can think to yourself, “Ok, I’m going to write about this idea, so now I need a paragraph to discuss this idea.”

Second Reason: This helps you keep your writing focused, cohesive, and concise, instead of vague, disorganized, and unnecessarily lengthy. You have one idea to discuss, and only one, and when you have finished discussing it, you know your paragraph is done.

While writing: First determine the idea about which you want to write. You may need to determine any supporting ideas, which also may go in that paragraph. Then you write a paragraph about that idea.

While editing: The process is the opposite. Read the paragraph and ask, “What is being discussed here?” If you cannot summarize it as one idea, the paragraph needs to be fixed. For example, you may have two separate ideas, in which case you will likely need two paragraphs. If you have no main idea, you may decide that the information needs to be a part of a different paragraph, or you may strike out the paragraph altogether.

By sticking to this tip, you help the reader understand and remember the ideas you are discussing. You communicate your ideas most effectively.

(This is the tip for day 60 in 300 Days of Better Writing.)

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