Have you ever read a student narrative the was composed as one long paragraph? knowing when come make brand-new paragraphs comes naturally to some students, yet not others. This write-up goes over five rules to teach. Start by downloading and install the teaching products for this lesson.

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Paragraphs Rule 1 – TOPIC CHANGE

Just as in writing nonfiction, begin a new paragraph once a new topic bring away place. If the author describes the setting and moves on to define the character’s thoughts or reaction to the setting, produce a brand-new paragraph. Right here are some instances from literature:

Stone Fox

Like the time grand dressed up together the scarecrow the end in the garden. The took little Willy one hour to capture on. Boy, did they laugh. Grand laughed so hard he cried. And when he cried his beard filled up through tears. (This paragraph tells around a time when Willy and also Grandfather had fun.)

Grandfather constantly got up real beforehand in the morning. So beforehand that it was still dark outside. He would certainly make a fire. Climate he would certainly make breakfast and also call small Willy. “Hurry up or you’ll be eating v the chickens,” he would say. Then he would throw his head earlier and laugh. (This brand-new paragraph clearly changes to one more example.)

Once tiny Willy went earlier to sleep. As soon as he wake up up, he uncovered his plate out in the chicken coop. It was picked clean. He never ever slept late again after that. (The punch line the the hoax is in a paragraph by itself for emphasis.)

The City the Ember

The desks were i ordered it in four rows that six, one behind the other. In the last row sat a slender girl named Lina Mayfleet. She to be winding a strand of her long, dark hair about her finger, winding and unwinding that again and again. Periodically she plucked in ~ a object on she ragged cape or bent end to traction on she socks, i beg your pardon were loose and tended to slide down around her ankles. One of 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. He sat v his shoulders hunched, his eye squeezed close up door in concentration, and his hands clasped strictly together. His hair looked rumpled, as if he hadn’t combed it for a while. He had actually dark, special eyebrows, i m sorry made the look major at the finest of time and, as soon as he to be anxious or angry, came together to form a straight line throughout his forehead. His brown corduroy jacket to be so old the its ridges had flattened out. (This paragraph defines Doon, another main character.)

Both the girl and the young were making immediate wishes. Doon’s great was an extremely specific. He recurring it over and also over again, his lips moving slightly, together if he might make the come true by speak it a thousands times. Lina to be making she wish in photos rather than in words. In her mind’s eye, she saw herself running v the roadways of the city in a red jacket. She make this photo as bright and also real as she could. (This paragraph compares the desire of Lina and also Doon.)

Paragraphs preeminence 2 – setting CHANGE-SKIPPING come A brand-new TIME OR A new PLACE

Remember that setting includes both time and place. If the story move from one location to one more or one time come another, begin a new paragraph. Scenes generally take place in one location. When the place changes, this way a new scene is about to take place. 

Look because that time clues:

They waited and waited.An hour later,The following afternoon,At the eleventh hour…A week passed.The secs seemed favor hours.Once in a blue moon…In the months that passed,

Look for location clues:

Meanwhile, earlier at…In Brooklyn,They moved roughly Chicago…It was difficult to lug the wide load down the small street.Across from the hospital,They boarded the plane,The home was situated…The taxi zipped through traffic.


The Giver

It was virtually December, and also Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Dorn word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening emotion of other terrible around to happen. Frightened to be the way he had felt a year back when one unidentified aircraft had overflown the neighborhood twice. He had seen the both times. Squinting toward the sky, he had actually seen the sleek jet, almost a blur in ~ its high speed, go past, and a second later heard the blast the sound the followed. Then one more time, a moment later, from the opposite direction, the exact same plane. (This paragraph starts the story. The describes an occasion that scared Jonas.)

At first, he had been only fascinated. He had never seen aircraft for this reason close, for it was against the rules for Pilots come fly end the community. Occasionally, once supplies were yielded by cargo planes to the landing field throughout the river, the kids rode your bicycles come the riverbank and watched, intrigued, the unloading and then the takeoff directed to the west, constantly away from the community. (A brand-new paragraph is made to describe what is regular in Jonas’s community. A change takes ar from the past to the present.)

But the aircraft a year ago had to be different. That was not a squat, fat-bellied cargo airplane but a needle-nosed single-pilot jet. Jonas, looking around anxiously, had seen others—adults and also children—stop what they were doing and also wait, confused, for an explanation that the dreadful event. (A brand-new paragraph is developed to go ago to relenten the event that took ar in the past. Another time shift takes place.)

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

Each time a various character speaks, produce a new paragraph. Note that this is likewise true v thoughts. If the narrator is explicate the thoughts of one character and a various character speaks or has his or she thoughts described, start a new paragraph.


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

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

“You need to tell that what you’ve been thinking, Isabel,” Dad said. He was on the various other side the the living room talking to Christopher’s dad. (Dad)

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

“No, I want to understand what friend were talk about,” i answered. (Auggie)

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

“No,” i said. (Auggie)

“I don’t, either,” said Dad. (Dad)

Paragraphs Rule 4 – TO rest UP lengthy NARRATIVES right into PARAGRAPHS

If a character offers a lengthy speech, that is much easier for the leader if the dialogue is damaged up.

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

Gary Paulsen is a grasp at storytelling. He regularly breaks the principles of writing through sentence fragments and other unconventional methods. Many brief paragraphs save his creating sounding urgent. I have included an excerpt from Hatchet not to illustrate paragraph breaks however to show how a flashback deserve to be interrupted with present events.


Now Brian sat, looking out the home window with the roar thundering with his ears, and also tried to magazine what had led up to his acquisition this flight. The reasoning started. Constantly it began with a solitary word. Divorce.

It to be an ugly word, that thought. A tearing, ugly native that meant fights and yelling, lawyers—God, he thought, just how he hated lawyers who sat through their comfortable smiles and also tried to explain to that in legal terms how all the he lived in was comes apart—and the breaking and shattering of every the heavy things. His home, his life—all the heavy things. Divorce. A break word, one ugly breaking word…

When he saw Brian look at him, the pilot appeared to open up up a bit and also he smiled. “Ever paris in the copilot’s chair before?” he leaned over and lifted the headset turn off his appropriate ear and put that on his temple, yelling to get rid of the sound that the engine…

But the pilot had actually put his headset ago on and also the gratitude was shed in the engine noise and also things went back to Brian looking the end the home window at the s of trees and lakes. The burning eyes did not come back, but memories did, came flooding in. The words. Always the words.


The Secret.

Paragraphs Rule 5 – for EFFECT

Use a i break come emphasize crucial point, for a laugh, to drive a message, or acquire some advantage.

 Look again at the previously examples. In the Stone Fox example, a new paragraph starts when the narrator gives the punch line.

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Also, look at the Hatchet excerpt. Notice the word “Divorce.” and also the phrase “The Secret.” room in paragraphs by themselves. This stresses their importance.