If writing was a sandwich, paragraphs are the meat of the work.
Paragraphs contain the words, ideas, and dialogue within their sections to keep your story going. The way paragraphs are structured can have an impact on your readers because they present your work.
In other words, your paragraphs can determine if you have a successful writing strategy.
The writing strategy you use when tackling paragraph structure can impact how your words come across on the page. That means you need to be intentional with how you decide to convey information.
When structuring paragraphs, you’ll want your readers to easily grasp your ideas and follow your sentence flow. You also want them to stay intrigued until the end.
Here’s four successful writing strategies you can use to improve the paragraph structure of your writing.
1. Look for sentence flow
One of the best strategies for successful writing is checking your sentence flow.
The way your sentences are ordered can make a difference because it’s essentially how you’re presenting information.
Think about it: when you’re writing, you’re presenting the details. If they don’t make sense, your readers will put down the book and move onto something else.
Reread your work slowly. Does one sentence lead to the next? If your writing doesn’t have a chronological order, you’ll need to adjust your work until it does.
Successful writing strategies when checking your sentence flow are:
- Reading your work aloud. When you go through your work word for word, you’re more likely to catch errors.
- Write your sentences in a list format. Does the first idea lead to the next? If not, you need to adjust.
- Check for tense shifts. If you find that you wrote in one tense and unnaturally changed to another, work to make your writing as consistent as possible.
- Make sure your paragraphs have a starting sentence and a conclusion. The content in the middle should lead to what you conclude in the last sentence.
- Have a friend read your writing to check for flow. They’ll tell you if something’s wonky or needs work.
Write, check, rewrite again. Keep track of your progress and work to make your sentences align with the topic of your paragraphs.
2. Cut the filler
It’s satisfactory to have written 5,000, 6,000, 7,000+ words.
You might be proud of the length of your work and how you can drone on about a subject you’re passionate about.
But sometimes, length isn’t the end-all. In fact, focusing on length could be hindering your writing.
Sometimes you might add sentences that don’t contribute to your point. People have short attention spans, and you’ll need to entice them to make it through your entire piece.
One of the best strategies for successful writing is to make sure you don’t have unnecessary sentences. Wasteful sentences are wasted time for your readers, after all!
And you don’t want to waste time in this competitive market — your goal is to have your readers stay until the last page.
You can cut the filler in your paragraphs by:
- Writing in the most concise way possible. Try to narrow your points as much as you can to keep your writing useful.
- Paying attention to the order you present your details in. This can keep you from backtracking within your work. You also want to make sure you’re mentioning information in an easy-to-follow format.
- Thinking about the relevance of the information you’re incorporating. Make sure everything in your writing has a purpose. If it doesn’t, you might need to edit your paragraphs.
You’ll want to cut your paragraphs down to ensure your writing effectively captures your reader’s attention.
Make one of your main writing strategies to get to the point quickly so your readers don’t get bored and read something else.
3. Check your Point of View
Point of view is the viewpoint that you are writing from. One of the best strategies for successful writing is understanding what viewpoint works best for your work and using your prose to speak through it.
However, shockingly enough, plenty of writers overlook the importance of keeping their point of view consistent.
Some of them might want to be artistic, while others don’t realize they are shifting point of view.
However, point of view shifts can be confusing. If we start in first person, it’s jarring to suddenly read about the character in third.
Think of writing as having a conversation with your readers; viewpoint shifts can be jarring and disorienting to what you’re trying to say.
You’ll want to choose one viewpoint for your writing strategy and maintain consistency.
Others reasons to maintain a consistent point of view:
- Changing point of view out of context can confuse the reader. Make it clear who’s talking so your reader trusts your writing.
- It establishes how you’re presenting information. The point of view you choose is part of the way you’re presenting information to the reader.
Choosing a point of view and sticking to it is one of the best writing strategies; remember, people need to be able to easily follow what you’re saying.
4. Check if paragraph structure makes sense
Okay, let’s say you’re writing a piece about how pickles are good for you (weird, but stick with me here).
You’d start off by writing that pickles are good for you, and then use different paragraphs to explain the reasons why. The first reason would be the digestive benefits, the next vitamins, and then you’ll write a paragraph on how pickles taste delicious.
Which of those three don’t belong? How pickles taste delicious, of course (and they do, but we’re making a point here).
This idea would detract from your main point and confuse the reader. Learning how to identify ideas that make sense for your point is one of the best writing strategies you can have in your back pocket.
Check your paragraph structure by:
- Printing your writing off and labeling the purpose of each paragraph in the margin. This way you can easily see what matches your point and what doesn’t, and you can work to cut out the filler.
- Making an outline of what you want to cover before you write. This can help prevent the inclusion of unnecessary ideas before you sit down to work.
- Thinking about what contributes to your point and doesn’t. Before you write, you should consider a wide range of possibilities; however, try to narrow down what you need and don’t.
Make sure whatever you do, everything you write is relevant. After all, the key to successful writing is knowing what you should and shouldn’t be including.
Ready, Set, Write!
Now that you know the best strategies for successful writing, it’s time to put these ideas into practice. Go write something and then use these tips to edit your work.
To make things easy, we’ve compiled a final printable list for you to use. Make sure you follow this checklist and find the strategies you want to use.
Last updated 7/30/2020
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