Clear Writing Requires Well Constructed Paragraphs

It’s my first anniversary for publishing this blog!  The first post was made January 22, 2012.  So, in honor of that event, my topic to illustrate the benefits of good paragraphing is one of my favorite subjects – baseball.

Paragraphs allow the reader to take a breath while continuing to read.  Without them, a reader  would face the daunting task of having to read and decide simultaneously when there is a change of thought or subject.                                

Clear writing flows directly from well composed paragraphing.  The effectiveness of any writing will depend directly on how well you have constructed the paragraphs.  All paragraphs should be unified in thought, well organized, and coherent.

Paragraphs may be long or short.  Moderation and common sense are keys to good paragraphing.  If a paragraph is too short, the reader may conclude the writer has given little thought to the writing.  If it’s too long, the reader may simply get discouraged.


Paragraphs May Be Used For Different Purposes

          There are distinct types of writing available for specific purposes, including persuasive, expository, narrative, creative, descriptive, research, and (book) reporting.  Paragraphing does not of necessity completely follow the type of writing you are using, but may vary within the main body of the document being written, depending on the context.

Two main groups of paragraphs exist, narrative and descriptive.  Other forms of paragraphing may have different identifying labels placed on them, such as chronologic, compare and contrast, definition, and others, but it is simpler to place them in one of the two main categories.

For example, a chronologic or progressive paragraph is so-called because of its orderly progression from one point to another, often following a time sequence.  But it’s still descriptive or narrative in nature.  Describing a fishing technique or a golf swing are good examples of the use of such a paragraph.

Expository writing is used to provide information.  Here is an example involving a famous baseball player and the fatal disease which took his life.

Silently, New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig handed over the unopened ketchup bottle to teammate Bill Dickey.  There was nothing complicated about it, to unscrew the cap of a ketchup bottle.  Even a child could do it.  But Gehrig no longer had the strength in his hands to even handle this simple task.  Troubled by an uncertain future, he munched his hamburger and stared out the window of the speeding train as it headed toward the next exhibition game.

It was spring, 1939.  In recent months Gehrig had noticed a puzzling diminution in his strength.  Last year his batting average had dipped below .300 for the first time in years.  And when he did hit a home run it wasn’t hit with the usual Gehrig authority.   Some shrugged it off as creeping old age.   But there were signs that something was seriously wrong.  Earlier that year a teammate had complemented Gehrig on making a routine out.  Soon it became clear even to a casual observer that he could no longer hit or play his position.

Gehrig was experiencing the onset of the debilitating disease which ultimately was to bear his name, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, known medically as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or simply ALS.   It would progressively render his muscles useless but leave his mind intact.  On May 1, 1939, Gehrig voluntarily removed himself from the Yankee lineup, bringing to an end his consecutive game streak of 2,130 games, a record which stood for the next 70 years.  The press had justifiably dubbed him “The Iron Horse” because of his durability.  He was forced to retire from the game on June 27, 1939.

Gehrig had been a devastating hitter during his years in the Yankee lineup.  With Babe Ruth batting in front of him, the duo had formed a key part of “Murderers Row,” which terrorized opposing pitching during the mid-1920s to mid- 1930s, possibly the most famous 1-2 punch in baseball history.  The number of times Gehrig came to bat with the bases loaded is not known, but what is known is that he cleared them 23 times with “grand slam” home runs, still a major league record, and quite an amazing feat considering who was batting ahead of him in the lineup.

His feats on the baseball diamond had not gone unnoticed.   Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day was held in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939.  In front of a sell-out crowd, surrounded by his teammates and others, Gehrig gave his memorable “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.  Later that year, the stricken player was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Barely two years later, on June 2, 1941, shortly before his 38th birthday, the  disease was to tragically take the Hall of Famer’s life.

The important thing to remember from all these clear writing posts is that words are powerful things.  You can learn how to harness this power by following my clear writing tips.  They are tried and tested.  They work.  Words can persuade people.  They can improve a company’s performance.  They can be very helpful when used properly.  Learn how to craft powerful messages – it’s a skill which will open doors for you that you never knew existed.      


 Copyright©2013.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved. 


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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, history, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement

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