When analyzing style, it is important to note how paragraphs are constructed. Patterns in paragraphing can have a significant impact on the mood of a prose piece. When examining the construction of paragraphs, note the length, the variety of sentence patterns, cohesion or transitional devices, and the kind of "movement" or development in the paragraphs.
- Length This can be measured in number of words OR number of sentences. Lengthier paragraphs are characteristic of more abstract or "literary" prose; concrete or technical prose tends toward briefer paragraphs.
- Sentence Variety Paragraphs with a variety of sentence patterns are more interesting to read and lend prose a literary quality. Paragraphs with less variety seem more abrupt and technical, though literary writers certainly have been known to affect this simple approach to paragraph construction.
- Cohesion Sentence in paragraphs should "belong" together; well-constructed paragraphs will make full use of various cohesive and transitional devices. Paragraphs with very clear transition (however, lastly, etc.) tend to be technical, while those with more subtle, creative devices are considered artistic or literary.
- Development This element of style is more subtle than others. Paragraph development refers to the patterns through which writers present their information. For instance, does the writer follow the standard pattern of topic sentence-three supporting sentences-concluding sentence that we all learned in elementary school? If so, the piece is likely technical, academic, expository. There is almost no limit to the patterns writers can create; the key is to pinpoint the paragraph's main idea and discern a pattern from there. Keep in mind that a patternless, "stream of consciousness" construction is common in literary prose.
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