I can’t tell you how many times I come across:
- bloated paragraphs,
- sentences longer than 30+ words, or
- badly placed images which lead readers to lose interest and bounce out of the read.
You see it in blogs, books, web pages, articles, tweets (Yes, tweets!) and copy of all sorts.
My first sentence above is longer than 30 words but I made it reader-friendly with bullet points. Readers love bullet points. In fact, readers love simplicity.
Writers should know the basics of the medium they’re writing in. And writers should know the nitty-gritty of the English language. A good rule of thumb is, if the writing feels even a little off, re-write it. Again, I wrote the first sentence above and thought it much too long. But I liked it enough not to change it – so I broke it up. Of course, what works well on a blog may not work well in prose or screenwriting.
You also don’t need to stick to the rules. But two basic guidelines for most writing nowadays are:
- Sentences should be under 30 words.
- Paragraphs should never go over 5 lines (not sentences, lines). 2-3 lines for screenwriting.
A good idea is to learn or emulate the layout of some of your favourite writings. Begin with this, anyway, then try to develop your own style. How does layout affect your story? Is there a right or wrong layout for a social media campaign’s narrative that’s spread out over 6 months?
Some food for thought.