It goes without saying that your grammar should always be correct. This - as any writer will know - is not always easy, especially when you're writing at a million miles per hour - so you should always be prepared to go back, check and re-read your work. If anything seems even a little off then re-phrase it so that it reads better. It's annoying and laborious but it's something you have to do if you want even a modicum of success. A few grammar errors too many and the reader may switch off and start reading something else instead.
2. Remember the reader
The reader is of paramount importance when it comes to writing your paragraphs. The story, plot and character development etc ultimately all serve to maintain their interest and the details that you include are there solely to satisfy their expectations. The trick is to put yourself into the mind of your reader and introduce elements that YOU KNOW they'll find interesting. A good example of this is Harry Potter. What kid wouldn't be spellbound by a book with wizards and dragons and magical games like quidditch? So if you're writing a book about space for example, make sure to include plot twists and details that will send your readership crazy.
3. Cut The Fat
I hate long, winding paragraphs that go on forever. As a writer and reader I prefer paragraphs that that do just enough to advance the plot, character and dialogue and then move on. If you find that your paragraph is starting to look bulky on your page then have a look at it again and see what you can snip away. It maybe that that moon you're describing has one adjective too many or that you've repeated yourself in some way. It might be a cliche but less really is more when it comes to writing. Certainly your readership will think so.
4. It's Kindle Time
This is the kindle generation. As of 2013 43.7 million kindles have been sold by Amazon, meaning that more and more - especially younger people - are reading their favourite books via their kindle instead of in books. Reading is all about speed now. It's about tapping away at the screen so that the novel moves ever onward towards its (hopefully exciting) conclusion. Any paragraph that's too long and too cumbersome gets in the way of that - so as well as snipping away it's also a good idea to break your paragraphs up. Where you see one paragraph, there might in fact be three or even four. As well as moving the narrative along, this also builds suspense as the reader bounces from one cliffhanger after another.
Look at the paragraph below from Jack Strong in Dreamland and compare it with the one that follows. The deleted words have been highlighted.
The old man plunged through the snow drift, his thin, gangly legs twirling bucketfuls of snow behind him, as the wind whipped, whined and cackled. Taking good care not to drop the bundle of fur in his arms, he stumbled and tripped through the darkness, his stomach a roaring and angry fire. Hearing a loud, grunting sound behind him, he turned around and peered into the black night, soft flakes of snow and ice raking his face. Then he saw it – a huge black shadow rumbling and tumbling through the snow like an avalanche.
The old man plunged through the snow drift, his gangly legs twirling bucketfuls of snow behind him, as the wind whined and cackled.
Taking care not to drop the bundle of fur in his arms, he stumbled through the darkness, his stomach a roaring and angry fire.
Hearing a loud, grunting sound behind him, he turned around and peered into the night, flakes of snow and ice raking his face.
Then he saw it –
A huge black shadow rumbling through the snow like an avalanche.
All superfluous words have been removed and the paragraph has been broken up to increase the tension, particularly in the second to last sentence where the reader is invited to dwell upon what 'ít' might be.
If you want to discuss any of the points raised in this blog post then please don't hesitate - I love a good discussion!
You can also find on Amazon my novels Jack Strong and the Red Giant and Jack Strong and the Prisoner of Haa'drath, about a bullied, 12 year old boy's adventures on a strange spaceship. You can find the links below: