Beware the SOLID BLOCK

IN PRAISE OF PARAGRAPHS

Pet Peeve #3

Have you ever gone clicking through the blogosphere —
perhaps checking out the Community Pool or First Friday —
or in some other way you’ve discovered some new blogger —
and suddenly you’re facing a solid block of type?
Maybe fifteen, twenty, or more
lines of SOLID words, like a brick wall
from one side of your screen to the other?

The writer may have presented an excellent case or clear explanation.
However, whatever their topic, whatever their opinion,
it’s written as one extremely long paragraph
and the prospect of reading it is daunting,
off-putting,
mind-befuddling
eye-blearing.

Like a different take on how to eat an elephant:
open your mouth and stuff the whole thing in,
then chewchewchewchewchew.
I don’t. I click out.
My policy is: if the writer doesn’t know what a paragraph is,
I’m not going to slog through what they have to say,
be it ever so brilliant.

Awhile ago I agreed to read another writer’s book and do a review.
Two days ago I opened this book on my Kindle. And faced
a solid screen of type.
No headings, no side bars, no quotes,
just one solid block of type.
The next page was two paragraphs. And thus it has continued
for as far as I’ve read. No more than two paragraphs per page.

My brain rebelled. I’ll work my way through it, but…
If this manuscript landed in a traditional editor’s slush pile,
the first reader would slide it from the envelope,
take one look,
and toss it on the RETURN TO SENDER pile.

White space is wonderful stuff!
Or so modern editors tell us
and I’m totally sold on the concept.
Five or six lines is long enough for a paragraph, in my opinion,
if a writer actually wants their work to be read.

Beware the SOLID BLOCK, my friend.

*Pet peeves #1 is when the internet isn’t working.
As it wasn’t when I first tried to post this.
Pet Peeve #2 is when I come back to my computer
and the cat is curled up in my office chair.

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