An English professor of mine always said that a writer has the talent to write on any subject for at least two pages.
“I could assign the class to analyze this ceiling and all of you could write five pages on it,” he jokingly added.
Yes, we writers love to write. But a big sin many writers commit is writing thick paragraphs.
No one likes to read a brick.
It’s a sin brought on by a heavy academic influence. As English students, we were required to write twenty-page thesis papers. And it’s much easier to reach that limit by elaborating on one detail for many pages rather than getting to the point.
As a creative writing graduate student, I was encouraged to write stories with thick paragraphs.
“They add more description,” one professor said.
“They keep the story rolling,” another professor said.
“Even I don’t want to read this paragraph,” I said.
Writers, it’s time to embrace white space in your writing. White space is your friend. That empty space between paragraphs brings more value to your writing than you thought. Here’s why adding more white space, not words, can bring more value to your writing—digital or print.
White Space Means No Thick Paragraphs
I’ll be honest. Whenever I click on a blog post that has bricks for paragraphs, I bounce. If the writer didn’t keep the reader in mind when composing the blog post, then I don’t give that writer my attention.
Call me close-minded. But I am on the hunt for great writers and great writing. And, of course, quick answers.
It was only decades ago that thick paragraphs were accepted in literature, newspaper columns, magazine articles, advertisements…the list goes on.
But then the Internet happened.
Now white space is read like a hard comma. Readers take a breath. Readers scroll down the page. Readers enjoy the silence between words.
Readers are more likely to read your words if you weave in more white space in your writing.
If you initially write a thick paragraph, devise a way break it up into several smaller paragraphs. Or cut redundant sentences from the paragraph.
Moral of the story: No one wants to read your thick paragraph.
White Space Declutters Your Words
Your readers are bombarded with messages all day long.
All. Day. Long.
Images. Spoken word. Written word. Word of mouth.
You are essentially fighting for the attention of your readers, even if all they’re doing is reading your writing.
That’s because these messages are bouncing around your reader’s brain, consciously or unconsciously.
That’s where white space comes in. White space in your writing allows your reader to clear his/her mind before reading what you have to say next. White space acts as an invitation for your reader to pause, reflect, and collect oneself before continuing.
This way, your reader will actually be able to comprehend what you have to say.
White Space Is Reader-Friendly
Nowadays, reading is more like skimming. We aren’t mentally pronouncing each syllable of every word. We are scrolling and breezing over the font.
If you want your writing to be read, you have to meet the reader’s reading style.
If the reader sees a thick paragraph, they’ll skip over it. Even if it means missing a big point of the story or the blog post.
Think of white space as an invitation to a fun conversation. The reader sees from a glance that the writing will be easy to digest and the reader can commit to giving the writing his/her full attention.
Let your writing be the conversation icebreaker, not the literary buzzkill.
Why is white space your friend? Share your story below.