Wednesday, May 30, 2012


As I make the latest tweaks to the Job book manuscript, I find myself confronting an old question I've never known the answer to. Is it a sign of bad writing if the paragraphs are not all roughly the same length? Worse, of bad thinking? On the other hand, wouldn't it be strange if an argument proceeded in so consistent a way, each step of the way the same size as the others, equally significant? The world and the things in it worth writing about aren't salami waiting to be sliced (not to mention pre-sliced like American cheese), but I must admit that much writing, including much very good writing, has a pleasing rhythm established by standard sized paragraphs.

This is only one of the meta-writing questions which occasionally detain me in pointless procrastinating reverie. One could ask the same about chapter or subsection lengths: is uniformity here a matter of style or substance? And here's another question: Should your most interesting claims come consistently at the beginnings or ends of paragraphs? And another: Should one use the past or the present tense when writing about past thinkers' arguments? And another: Should you ever use "one"?

I know, I know, let the editor decide: back to the manuscript!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One more day and then it's over.
Be proud!