Stop Stealing Our Writing Tools!

Why is there space between your paragraphs? You are stealing our space! Stop it! You are taking away our freedom. You are robbing us of a tool that shows time passing or that indicates dramatic pause. If you continue to put space between every paragraph in fiction, we will no longer have a choice. We won’t be able to use it for non-chapter breaks that don’t warrant asterisks or other markers. If you continue, spaces will become the norm and we will succumb to the abnormal norm, or risk being misunderstood, or worse…. Would you also eliminate your ellipses?

Who are you, and why are you stealing our space? Apparently, you are technology. This isn’t the first time that advances in production have influenced the grand scope of communication. (A printing press anomaly is the reason American writers place ending punctuation inside the quotation mark on trailing quoted material.) Not all that along ago, business letters had paragraph indentations. Online, however, the accepted formatting is single space block with space between paragraphs. It’s a Microsoft Office default, so it’s ‘deir fault. (Stop forcing puns while you’re at it.)

This new evolution in technology has perverted fiction (and many essays). Textbooks have printed fiction with meaningless extra spaces. I have seen it! John Updike surely did not want his dialogue perforated with unintended emptiness.  Nor did Kate Chopin. It appalls me, and it should appall you. Why? Because this laziness and stupidity becomes almost criminal when you consider that novices who unwittingly read Updike perverted with extra spacing will think it is supposed to be that way. (Isn’t that how we learn – by emulating the masters?) They will think that John Updike intended space between every single paragraph. This in turn sets up the expectation that all fiction should require whitespace. This abomination needs to be stopped.

Someone or thing (maybe Microsoft) has stolen your screwdriver for tightening and loosening your narrative as you see fit. Soon this foolish spacing tendency will overtake us. We will lose our screwdrivers, and then we’re screwed.  So, for God’s sake, stop!


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