On the Underutilization of Single Sentence Paragraphs

I have long been a fan of single sentence paragraphs.

I really have.

When used properly, an occasional one-off sentence can really stand out, amidst the tumble of longer paragraphs made up of complicated sentences. Here’s a good example from The Power Broker. In this part of the book, Robert Moses has spent an intense year, one that followed upon some pretty intense years preceding it, fighting to build parks and parkways on Long Island and elsewhere. But he found himself blocked at every turn. Too many powerful interests were stacked up against him, and it really looked like his plan was doomed to fail. Robert Caro describes his situation in the following two paragraphs:

It had been more than a year since Robert Moses had announced his revised and broadened Park and parkway plan, a plan which had, after all, included parks and parkways not only on Long Island but throughout the rest of New York State, along the Niagara Frontier, in the Genesee Valley, in the farmland of the Taconic region, and among the peaks of the Alleghanies, Catskills and Adirondacks. Now, more than a year later, parks and parkways were still located nowhere but in the map of Moses’ imagination. After all the talking, all the planning, all the fighting, he simply didn’t exist. And at the end of 1925, there seemed little possibility that they would come into existence at any time in the foreseeable future. If one looked ahead a decade, even a generation, it seemed unlikely that any substantial part of the dream would be reality.

Within three years, almost all of it would be reality.

And then Caro continues on to the next chapter. That last sentence, to the point and standing alone, thereby magnifying its impact on the reader. Don’t you want to read on and find out what happens? Not a surprise that this guy has won multiple Pulitzers.

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