Paragraphs are a grey area for many writers, especially those who grew up in the era when schools were experimenting with ways to teach grammar. Some ways were pretty whacky. Was the rule about new paragraphs to make one whenever we drew breath or was that when we stuck in a comma? The rules were not precise.
Do paragraphs really matter? Can writing be persuasive even if the paragraphs are ill-formed and inconsistent? Of course, it can. Stories can engage our emotions, and ideas get us excited even when the grammar is wrong.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, is one of the best-known business books of all time, and one of the best known “list” book titles.
Listicles are articles structured by numbers (five steps, three essentials, 101 things to do). They are hugely popular for obvious reasons (and some less obvious ones).
Of course, a list breaks a big task into a bunch of small ones. We would all like to be highly effective (big goal) and we are thrilled to think all we have to do is master seven habits (small steps) to get there.
I wrote my first #book in third grade. My friend Caroline and I both did.
We each folded a page from our exercise books, again and again, to make all the pages, trimmed the edges, and stapled the spine. Then we wrote teeny tiny stories.
It was such #fun, and it reminds me of a lesson I learned long ago: I #write best when I have fun.
As a journalist, I learned a very important lesson: I couldn’t write a story if I hadn’t done the research. By ‘the research’ I mean that I had to do enough research to be sure of what I wanted to say. I might have a topic, like marketing to men. I’d start interviewing people on this topic, and gradually, the story would become clear. It might be that men are often overlooked by marketers, or that it’s pointless marketing to men because women do most of the buying. I had to keep on asking questions, checking out assumptions, until I was sure.
Reading a book should be like floating gently down a river towards an ocean of possibilities. To keep our reader receptive to our ideas, we want them to be ‘in the zone’, effortlessly connecting with what we say, and gliding from one idea to the next.