words, phrases, clauses, paragraphs….

…as a writer you keep building the upside down pyramid. You start with words. The right word. You think of what the word means to you or how it sounds. Words are more than just meaning, they can be picture like beach, or lake or hideaway. They can be memory like mother or father.  They can be fun like onomatopoeia: boom, cuckoo, zap. But they don’t make sense. So, next are phrases, grouping words to make some sort of unit but unable to make sense because they are just a part of a whole. So, clauses, the next level up, the words strung together to express an idea and, more importantly, to put an idea out there that others, those not privy to what’s inside your head, can understand. And, then, once you’ve sequenced the words in the order that makes you feel you have a valid idea, Voila! you have a paragraph. 

Makes you wonder, well, makes me wonder.  Word. ORIGIN Old English , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch woord and German Wort, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin verbum ‘word.’

Then phrase. Apparently, it took us a bit of time to get to the next step. ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense [style or manner of expression] ): vialate Latin from Greek phrasis, from phrazein ‘declare, tell.’

But a phrase doesn’t declare or tell, it sort of relates, because then we have a clause. ORIGIN Middle English : via Old French clause, based on Latin claus-‘shut, closed,’ from the verb claudere. So, closed? as in done? Or closed as secure, finished?

Paragraphs may be my favorites. ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from French paragraphe, via medieval Latinfrom Greek paragraphos ‘short stroke marking a break in sense,’ from para– ‘beside’ + graphein ‘write.’  LOL, to write beside?  I like the Greek better, making a break in sense. According to the Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. That works really well for a non-fiction, essay, scholastic paper, but fiction? Creative fiction?

For me, a paragraph is what takes the words that evoke memory and pictures, put them together in phrases where the words are surrounded other words giving direction, then formed into clauses that are each finished in their own way, grouping into a paragraph that moves your forward into your story. Because story is ALWAYS the end result.