One at a time
Posted October 26, 2011on:
Maybe it’s the slow disintegration of publishing as an industry, but I doubt it, since I’ve seen several authors do this in the past, long before the whole self-publishing craze started. The first time was an author I had heard of as being really good and very popular, so when I saw a book of hers in the library I thought I’d give it a try. I couldn’t get past the first page. Why?
See that one there? Is it hypocritical of me to complain about one-sentence paragraphs and then go and do the very same thing myself? The, answer, in a word, is ‘No’.
I could have made that last sentence a paragraph of its own too, but I didn’t. There’s a time and a place for such a thing, usually when I’m trying to evoke a greater sense of emphasis than a mere exclamation point would provide. I wouldn’t put multiple exclamation points in a single sentence, or even in the same paragraph without a damn good reason, so you can imagine how little I would use a one-sentence paragraph.
So when I read this book by this author and found the entire first page (not even a full page going by the usual rules of first pages) was composed entirely of one-sentence paragraphs, I just put it down again. Every sentence cannot be a screaming imperative. It’s like I said in my post a while back about Story Flow, sometimes the water has to hit a rock, maybe even a rapids, but the entire river cannot be rapids. Those of riding along in our flimsy boats of suspended disbelief start going “Aaahhh!” and paddling madly for shore.
It’s getting worse, though. I discovered later a new book by an author I really liked, an installment in her latest series, and immediately took it out. Same problem. It was very depressing, sort of like Peter Pan discovering Wendy had grown old or something. Now another has started to do it. In her latest book minus one she did it frequently, but mixed in with enough regular paragraphs that the effect wasn’t so obnoxious. In her latest book some pages are nothing but. So don’t do it, unless you have a damn good reason.