Paragraphs are like slides

Paragraphs are like slides.

You may not be immediately convinced by my thesis.

So let me make my case.

Both slides and paragraphs deliver main messages. They’re the most important building blocks of your story.

To discuss this, it’s helpful to have a word for ‘slide or paragraph’. Let’s call it a paraslide. Sounds like a fun extreme sport.

A good paraslide has one main message. And that message comes first.

With slides, this message is conveyed in the heading. With paragraphs, it is in the first sentence.

If your paraslide is very dense, that’s probably because you put multiple messages in it. This happens all too often: long paragraphs, overcrowded slides.

If this is the case, see if you can spread the message over multiple paraslides.

In a good paraslide, each element supports the main message. Every sentence. Every visual detail.

This is what I call vertical alignment.

If your paraslide isn’t vertically aligned,you can adjust the main message. Or change other elements of your paraslide. Removing something often works well.

A good paraslide is also explicitly connected to  the previous (and the next) paraslide. Often because it repeats a term from the previous paraslide.

I call this horizontal alignment (even though, with paragraphs, it’s not literally horizontal).

For instance:

  • Main message 1: Paragraphs and slides can be thought of as ‘paraslides’.
  • Main message 2: Every paraslide has one main message.
  • Main message 3: Try to get these main messages connected.

Paragraphs are like slides.