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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Will e-readers change our writing style?

"I recently had an editor ask me to cut down my paragraphs into four, maybe five sentences. To find a break point in ones that were longer and limit the number of sentences. The reason – they play better on an e-reader. The size of the screens is conducive to shorter paragraphs rather than longer ones. So instead of describing a room in terms of sight, sound and smells, I needed a separate paragraph for each. It made sense in that context but it made for a change in my writing style."

This was a quote from Regan Taylor a writer of historical romance. (Read her whole post The long and short of reading and writing here)

With the Kindle arriving in the UK and more and more people choosing e readers, I thought this was an interesting point for writers. When we all began writing emails, the indented paragraphs disappeared in favour of a line space because this made it easier to read on screen, and Arial became the font of choice as opposed to Times New Roman. Most of us have nearly forgotten how a letter used to look, and most documents now are laid out "email style" rather than with old-fashioned paragraphs.

Those of you who possess e-readers might like to give us writers a few tips on what works well on an e-reader and what doesn't. And have any other writers changed their style to adapt to new technology?


  1. I would struggle with that one. Variation in paragraph structure is a huge tool in my bag for creating pace and suspense.

  2. Hi Nevets, yes, for me too. I like to create density of structure to slow the reader down, and then shorter snappier paras to create pace. Interesting though.

  3. That said, and my disgruntled personal reaction aside, I do think it will change writing long-term. Structure and style will change, for sure. It's the job of the authorial community to make sure sure that we find ways of keeping the content and artistic integrity in tact through those changes.

  4. What an interesting post, Dee. I don't possess an e-reader (not because I don't approve but, mostly, because I can't justify the expense) but I do find myself reading a lot on my laptop and very dense, un-broken-up text is certainly a lot harder to cope with than nicely spaced stuff.
    I'm sure my paragraphs have got shorter as my writing has progressed, anyway, but I wouldn't be averse to taking this new requirement into consideration. It's all about the reader, in the end, isn't it?