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Any piece of written content should be snapped up into paragraphs, and not just to make your copy scannable. Paragraphs break through the chaos and make everything clear as a glass of Pinot.

But how do you write the right paragraphs?

I remember back in school, we were always told to pee with our paragraphs, or pee on them… one of the two. And no, I’m not talking about channeling your incontinent puppy, I’m talking about P.E.E.

  • Introduce your Point
  • Back it with Evidence
  • Explain what that all means

Offline, our paragraphs tend to be longer. In printed publications, novels and academic writing, the “done thing” is for each paragraph to focus on a single idea. It can have as many sentences as you fancy, as long as they stay on point.

On screen, it’s different. Our eyes need a lot of breaks. Online writing is generally made up of paragraphs between 1 and 4 lines long, and rather than discussing a full idea in each paragraph, we focus on a single point.

You can no longer rely on a single paragraph to present one side of the argument.

Why the change? Why are we letting digital media bastardize literary norms?

We’re not. As has been the case throughout history, reader preferences set the standard. If our audience wants easily digestible, single squares of text, it’s our job to deliver.

Even though in the online sphere paragraphs are pretty much score sentences that have been elaborated, I still stand by the P.E.E. method. It’s a super simple way to get your head around perfecting your paragraphs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with it. Shuffle the order. Play with the balance.

Here’s an example of a “peed on” paragraph from a past post, so you can see what I mean:

If ever you’re stuck, brain dump everything onto a page. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t even have to be full sentences. Once you get all that stuff out of your mind and onto paper, you have fragments to build upon. I’ve found 750words.com really useful for this – I can do a stream of consciousness writing splurge, and then come back later to pull out any nuggets of goodness.

(source: How to make your copy killer)

POINT: If ever you’re stuck, brain dump everything onto a page.

EXPLANATION: It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t even have to be full sentences. Once you get all that stuff out of your mind and onto paper, you have fragments to build upon.

EVIDENCE: I’ve found 750words.com really useful for this – I can do a stream of consciousness writing splurge, and then come back later to pull out any nuggets of goodness.

As with any blog writing technique, variety is key. Your stalkers loyal and consistent followers will be exposed to your content week after week (or day after day if you’re considerably more prolific than me). Mixing things up is what keeps things interesting for them, and that’s the name of the game.

Have a go, and pop me a paragraph in the comments below!