18. Hit Return
It’s hard to write about the power of paragraphs without sounding like the narrator of a wildlife documentary for sixth-graders. (“Our industrious friend the paragraph!”) But here goes.
A paragraph break is among the most underrated writing tools. It not only helps organize your thoughts and serves practical purposes such as separating speakers in dialogue (always separate speakers in dialogue!); it can also lend emphasis, visually air out a dense story, or give readers a nanosecond to absorb a thought before moving on.
Nothing but long paragraphs can make your writing a chore to read, no matter how beautiful the words. Too many short ones and it’s choppy. By the same token, a deliberately crafted one-sentence—or one-word—paragraph can stop a reader cold (in a good way).
Paragraph mindfully. It’s part of the writing—and, even more important, editing—process.