Have you ever read a student narrative the was written as one lengthy paragraph? understanding when to make new paragraphs comes naturally to part students, but not others. This article goes over 5 rules to teach. Start by downloading and install the teaching products for this lesson.

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Paragraphs Rule 1 – TOPIC CHANGE

Just together in creating nonfiction, start a brand-new paragraph when a new topic take away place. If the author describes the setting and moves on to define the character’s think or reaction to the setting, produce a new paragraph. Here are some examples from literature:

Stone Fox

Like the time grandfather dressed up together the scarecrow the end in the garden. It took little Willy an hour to capture on. Boy, go they laugh. Grandfather laughed so hard he cried. And when he cried his beard filled up v tears. (This i tells around a time once Willy and also Grandfather had fun.)

Grandfather always got increase real at an early stage in the morning. So beforehand that it to be still dark outside. He would certainly make a fire. Climate he would make breakfast and call tiny Willy. “Hurry up or you’ll be eating with the chickens,” he would certainly say. Climate he would certainly throw his head ago and laugh. (This new paragraph clearly changes to an additional example.)

Once tiny Willy went earlier to sleep. Once he wake up up, he uncovered his plate out in the chicken coop. It was picked clean. He never slept late again ~ that. (The beat line the the joke is in a i by itself for emphasis.)

The City of Ember

The workdesks were i ordered it in four rows that six, one behind the other. In the last row sat a slim girl called Lina Mayfleet. She to be winding a strand of her long, dark hair approximately her finger, winding and unwinding the again and again. Occasionally she plucked at a thread on her ragged cape or bent end to pull on her socks, i m sorry were loose and tended to on slide down about her ankles. Among her feet tapped the floor softly. (This paragraph explains Lina, one of the key characters.)

In the second row was a boy called Doon Harrow. That sat with his shoulders hunched, his eye squeezed close up door in concentration, and his hands clasped strictly together. His hair looked rumpled, as if the hadn’t combed it because that a while. He had actually dark, special eyebrows, i m sorry made that look significant at the best of time and, when he was anxious or angry, came together to kind a directly line across his forehead. His brown corduroy jacket to be so old the its ridges had flattened out. (This paragraph explains Doon, another main character.)

Both the girl and also the boy were making immediate wishes. Doon’s great was really specific. He recurring it over and over again, his lips moving slightly, together if he might make it come true by speak it a thousands times. Lina was making her wish in pictures rather than in words. In her mind’s eye, she witnessed herself running with the highways of the city in a red jacket. She do this picture as bright and also real as she could. (This paragraph compares the desire of Lina and Doon.)

Paragraphs dominance 2 – setup CHANGE-SKIPPING come A brand-new TIME OR A new PLACE

Remember that setting includes both time and also place. If the story shifts from one ar to another or one time come another, begin a brand-new paragraph. Scenes generally take place in one location. When the location changes, this method a new scene is about to take it place. 

Look because that time clues:

They waited and also waited.An hour later,The following afternoon,At the eleventh hour…A mainly passed.The seconds seemed choose hours.Once in a blue moon…In the months the passed,

Look for location clues:

Meanwhile, back at…In Brooklyn,They moved roughly Chicago…It was difficult to bring the vast load down the narrow street.Across indigenous the hospital,They boarded the plane,The residence was situated…The taxi zipped with traffic.


The Giver

It was nearly December, and also Jonas was beginning to it is in frightened. No. Not correct word, Jonas thought. Frightened supposed that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible around to happen. Frightened was the means he had felt a year earlier when one unidentified aircraft had actually overflown the community twice. He had seen that both times. Squinting towards the sky, he had actually seen the sleek jet, practically a blur at its high speed, go past, and also a second later heard the blast that sound the followed. Then one an ext time, a moment later, native the opposite direction, the exact same plane. (This paragraph begins the story. That describes an event that frightened Jonas.)

At first, he had actually been just fascinated. He had actually never watched aircraft therefore close, for it was versus the rules for Pilots come fly over the community. Occasionally, as soon as supplies were yielded by cargo planes come the landing field throughout the river, the children rode their bicycles to the riverbank and also watched, intrigued, the unloading and also then the takeoff command to the west, always away native the community. (A new paragraph is made to explain what is regular in Jonas’s community. A transition takes place from the previous to the present.)

But the plane a year back had to be different. That was no a squat, fat-bellied cargo aircraft but a needle-nosed single-pilot jet. Jonas, looking roughly anxiously, had seen others—adults as well as children—stop what they were doing and also wait, confused, because that an explanation the the dreadful event. (A new paragraph is produced to go back to relenten the event that took location in the past. One more time change takes place.)

Paragraphs Rule 3 – IN DIALOGUE once A brand-new CHARACTER SPEAKS

Each time a various character speaks, develop a new paragraph. Note that this is also true through thoughts. If the narrator is relenten the thoughts of one character and also a various character speaks or has his or she thoughts described, begin a brand-new paragraph.


“What space you talk about?” i said. (Auggie)

Mom looked surprised, choose she hadn’t expected for me to hear that. (Narrator describes Mom.)

“You must tell the what you’ve to be thinking, Isabel,” Dad said. He to be on the various other side of the living room talk to Christopher’s dad. (Dad)

“We must talk about this later,” stated Mom. (Mom)

“No, I want to understand what girlfriend were talking about,” ns answered. (Auggie)

“Don’t you think you’re prepared for school, Auggie?” mommy said. (Mom)

“No,” i said. (Auggie)

“I don’t, either,” claimed Dad. (Dad)

Paragraphs Rule 4 – TO rest UP long NARRATIVES into PARAGRAPHS

If a character provides a long speech, the is simpler for the leader if the conversation is broken up.

Teaching moment – Encourage students to break up lengthy bits that narration through action. For example, if a remind is taking place, have actually the personality come earlier to the present, define what is acquisition place, and also then go earlier to the flashback.

Gary Paulsen is a understand at storytelling. He regularly breaks the values of writing with sentence fragments and also other unconventional methods. Many brief paragraphs keep his writing sounding urgent. Ns have contained an excerpt from Hatchet not to show paragraph breaks yet to show how a flashback can be interrupted with current events.


Now Brian sat, looking out the window with the roar thundering with his ears, and also tried to brochure what had led approximately his acquisition this flight. The thinking started. Constantly it started with a single word. Divorce.

It was an ugly word, he thought. A tearing, ugly word that supposed fights and also yelling, lawyers—God, he thought, exactly how he hated lawyers that sat v their comfortable smiles and tried to describe to that in legit terms how all that he stayed in was comes apart—and the breaking and also shattering of every the solid things. His home, his life—all the heavy things. Divorce. A break word, one ugly breaking word…

When he experienced Brian look at him, the pilot seemed to open up a bit and he smiled. “Ever fly in the copilot’s seat before?” that leaned over and lifted the headset turn off his appropriate ear and put it on his temple, yelling to conquer the sound of the engine…

But the pilot had put his headset ago on and also the gratitude was lost in the engine noise and also things went ago to Brian looking the end the window at the ocean of trees and also lakes. The burning eyes did not come back, however memories did, come flooding in. The words. Constantly the words.


The Secret.

Paragraphs Rule 5 – for EFFECT

Use a i break to emphasize an important point, because that a laugh, to journey a message, or acquire some advantage.

 Look again at the earlier examples. In the Stone Fox example, a new paragraph begins when the narrator offers the punch line.

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Also, look in ~ the Hatchet excerpt. Notice the native “Divorce.” and also the expression “The Secret.” space in paragraphs by themselves. This stresses their importance.