Oh, yeah… I’m not really the touchy-feely type, but when it comes to art, that’s what happens. When you’re looking at a painting, you’re seeing color, subject, and design, and the combination of all of those will evoke an emotional response when the painting is really good.
Let’s take a familiar example — Edvard Munch‘s The Scream. It’s rather simple, isn’t it? Blocks of color all swirled about and one ghostly figure in the forefront just standing there with its mouth open. Unless it hit some emotional chord in so many, the painting would be rather mundane. But the combination of color, subject, and design has made it very popular over the centuries, as it was painted in 1893!
So, let’s apply that to a novel. Same thing. People relate to good fiction writing because of the writing color, the subject matter, and the author’s design. A LOT of feeling goes into writing a novel, and if it’s really good, that emotion transfers to many people.
How do you convey feeling?
Style. And that includes the way you write paragraphs.
Never be rigid. Always write for readers. Forget everything you learned in grade school, and just feel when a new paragraph should happen. THAT is part of your style, your voice, and if it resonates with other people, you’ll probably be quite successful.
Knowing what people want isn’t all that important to an artist, but even if you’re not thinking about your work from a marketing perspective as you’re creating, you still need to figure out how to write with readers in mind.
It means that you have to entice them by making things look easier than they may actually be. To do that, you need to create white space (areas where there is no text), and the eaisest way to do that is by writing short paragraphs.
Oh, I know. I know… You’re literary. You NEED longer paragraphs and that’s all there is to it.
OK… You can have some longer paragraphs, but overall, you should write shorter. Give the illusion that the reading will be easy, no matter how difficult the material is. Go ahead… Use big words. Be as erudite as you see fit.
But keep your paragraphs to a size that makes people feel like you’re not taxing their brains. Think about it. Many of today’s adults were raised on Sesame Street and the Internet. Our “sound byte” mentality is going to affect your sales. So, create a paragraph when it feels right and forget everything you’ve learned.
You’ll have more readers for it.