A writer’s little helper: The space break

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This text could use a space break or two.

I was working with a writer the other day, giving her some feedback on a long essay. She had used a creative device that conveyed tension well, but to me it appeared suddenly, far down in the essay.

“I like it, but it kind of comes out of nowhere,” I said. “But if you put a space break right before it, then it works perfectly.”

I didn’t realize it until I said it, but could it be that one tiny little change, a respite between paragraphs, makes all the difference between something working and not working? In my opinion, it appeared so.

I’m a big fan of space breaks. I probably overuse them, that’s how fond I am of them. If I’m bored someday, I should count the number I used in my memoir. I’m drafting a long essay right now and I barely have any sections that are longer than a few lines. So far in that essay I’ve used 23 pauses to break up 5,000 words. It’s a braided essay, with three separate strands, so each time I switch to a new strand I use a break.

As I draft, the breaks are more for my benefit. I want to see each distinct idea that I’m dealing with. It could be that when I revise, I will combine some strands.

But I like the breathing room they represent, the little break they give to a reader. What do you think? Are you a fan of space breaks, as either a writer or reader?