Breaking a Paragraph

Jesse's Studio

The basic rule of a paragraph is that we break a paragraph when there’s a change of subject; a new idea is introduced, a new person speaks, the time shifts. This doesn’t mean that paragraphs are purely functional we can also use them to speed or slow the reader’s pace; a long paragraph slows the pace, a short paragraph speeds it up and for really quick fire we can go down to a line or a word. But it’s best to start with the basics.

If we’re going to go right to the basics of a narrative prose paragraph the most obvious paragraph break is the dialogue break. So we might have two characters speaking, Jane and Ted, and each time the speaker changes we have a new paragraph:

‘How’re you?’ said Jane.

‘I’m fine,’ said Ted.

This is the easy bit when we only have the dialogue and attribution…

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The Cat's Write

I’ve been collecting a list of WP bloggers with an insane amount of followers who focus primarily on writing. No doubt you’ve come across most, if not all of these writerly scholars who meander about WordPress, affecting us with their Hollywood connections, best seller success, dreamy wordiness or their delicately composed poems that touch on the otherworldly.

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Here is a good article by Vanessa Couchman

Vanessa Couchman

Yours truly signing books at the Parisot Literary Festival

Doing an author talk and reading or a public book launch can be intimidating if you don’t have much experience. And public speaking generally is daunting unless you’re one of life’s extroverts, which I’m not. I have done quite a lot of it in past incarnations, sometimes to hostile audiences, but it still makes me nervous.

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Your First Page

Diamond in the Slush

Arguably, the most important part of your manuscript is the very first page—perhaps even the very first sentence. It’s the first thing that an editorial intern or literary agent will read, and its quality determines whether or not they will scroll to the next page. If your first page disappoints, the chances of your manuscript gaining representation fall drastically.

It might seem too fast. You might be thinking, Wait! The first chapter is fantastic! They’ll at least read the full chapter, won’t they?

Sadly, neither I nor anyone else can guarantee that.

It Happens Quickly

We’re back to the idea that agents are very busy people. They are always balancing a variety of projects and authors at any given time, and acquiring new authors has to be a sure bet for many of them. A weak first page indicates an unpolished manuscript. 

Some agents or interns might take longer than…

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Scottish Writers' Centre

dsc_0033Since Janet Paisley began on her typewriter in the 70s, she has been published as a novelist, playwright, poet and screenwriter. Blessed with that desirable ability to write in all and every form, she has delivered award winning writings across numerous mediums, earning her status not only as a hugely popular Scottish writer, but a worldwide one also. She joined us on 6th December 2016 to share her writing process, why she writes and just how she’s made herself such a success over the years.

In the 1980s, Paisley was raising her six children on a single income. After a period of writing for commercial publications to pay the bills, she decided it was time to write for herself. In 1984, attending a Writers’ Group in Falkirk encouraged her to try styles she hadn’t previously considered. For her, this ‘strange work we do with language’ resulted in the ‘best things I ever did.’…

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Diamond in the Slush

Literary agents: the gatekeepers of the publishing industry, the first door you knock on, the ones with the connections to get your manuscript published…so, who are they? A good agent is your advocate and champion throughout the publishing process. He or she will help ensure that your manuscript finds a great publisher and that you, the author, are the happiest you can be as you see your dreams of publication fulfilled.


Literary agents were not always a part of the publishing process. In the early days of publishing, actual print houses did all of the legwork for authors who wanted their books to reach public consumption. Even publishing houses didn’t truly exist at that time. Print houses would typeset and print copies of books, but they offered few other services. As publishing grew and expanded, publishers began offering a wider range of editorial services to authors (including, later, services…

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Singular Fiction

Image courtesy of Stockvault. Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Early on when writing my first unpublished novel, I discovered I had a maximum daily output. Some days I’d write over 3,000 words, but the stuff I wrote wasn’t anything I could work with. I faced a hard choice – keep what I wrote and worry about it later, or delete it now and move on. The first time I chose to delete them, I selected about 5,000 words, and just like that, they were gone.

There are going to be days where everything one writes might fit so poorly with the surrounding story that it practically screams for deletion. I know there’s an urge to keep it, to hold onto it for as long as possible in the hopes that maybe something from it can be salvaged. This urge is encouraged in some writing contests like NaNoWriMo because it helps with the challenge (but…

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