Thursday, December 16, 2010

The one phrase paragraph

Reading through an article on a certain popular news website I realised that there is something I really dislike: the very short, one-phrase paragraph.

I'm trying to work out why, and I think it is because it is too easy. I believe a journalist's job is to make an impact with how things are described not the way the words are physically arranged on the page. If a phrase has a paragraph to itself it immediately stands out. It is a gimmick, and like all gimmicks it is interesting at first but becomes irritating with overuse. The one phrase paragraph is pretentious.

So stop it.

(And that is a message to myself too)


Blogger Brian Clegg said...

Clare, I rarely disagree with you, but I have to on this one. Yes, it can be overused like any format, but I don't think it's just a gimmick. I think it's a valuable tool for emphasis, and it works for me. Sorry.

Thu Dec 16, 08:50:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I liked it at first Brian, but I have completely gone off it now - I think just because it is being overused. Like lots of things (exclamation marks and expletives, for instance) they lose impact if they are in every article. I haven't been aware of it in your posts, though, I have to say.

For me the one-phrase paragraph(e.g. has become an irritating distraction from what is being said. I am going to strive to banish it from my own writing.

Thu Dec 16, 09:04:00 am  
Anonymous Dr. Grump said...

And also strive for mastery of the comma, which you keep leaving out.

Thu Dec 16, 09:11:00 am  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

That's the key word here - overuse. It's the same with swearing. Compare the language used in Reservoir Dogs to the single 'fuck life' at the end of Beckett's Rockaby. Anything can be overused. Metaphors are great but a poem that's just line after line of metaphor can wear you down.

Thu Dec 16, 11:17:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I agree completely, Jim.

Thu Dec 16, 11:32:00 am  
Anonymous Mary said...

I'm guilty of using this technique periodically, Clare. I certainly hope I'm not over-using it. Gotta keep an eye on that.

Mon Dec 20, 06:18:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I think we all do, Mary. As Jim says I think it when it is over-used that it becomes truly tedious.

Mon Dec 20, 06:39:00 pm  

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