Friday, September 10, 2010

Sentence & Paragraph Length

Ah, now just how long is too long and how short is too short?

I just earned my bachelor's degree in history almost two years ago. I went to school part-time and full-time over many years. During those years I learned that my paragraphs had to be between 4-8 sentences long and each sentence had to be complete. That was a major requirement of most of my professors. I even had a professor who would measure the margins when students handed in their seminar papers. He would also take off points in all of his classes if the paragraph length and structure weren't right. Needless to say, I only took one of his classes and opted for the only other professor who gave the seminar class. My experience was much better than his students'.

However, when I read novels I don't see the same structure that was drilled into my head. I see partial sentences. Sentences that have a few words. The words "it" and "thing" are used. To never use those two words was also drilled into my head.

So, as I sit down to write my own novel I realize that I have no idea how to structure my sentences or my paragraphs. I try to pay as close attention when I read other authors in the Young Adult genre to see how they handle sentence and paragraph structure and length. Yet, no matter how much I read I still have drilled into my head just how many sentences a paragraph must be and that a sentence must be complete. Or else!

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that we don't always think or speak in complete sentences or defined paragraphs. Therefore, I write exactly what my character is thinking or speaking. Even if it's incomplete sentences. I don't have that one professor reading my books telling me I'm wrong.

Till next time, have a wonderful day!

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