A paragraph is a strand of hair: it can wisp over your eyes at times, but is easy to lift away. It gets your attention. Keeps you going to the next paragraph. Not too long, not too short.
A long dull paragraph is a thunker: that's the sound the book makes when it falls out of my hands at night because I have drifted away.
Blogs, tweets, newspaper column paragraphs: is this the length of my attention span? I have a pretty short hair do, then.
Take Julie and Julie, for instance. What starts out as a romp through a cookbook suddenly--in the first paragraphs--becomes a long diversion into harvesting a woman's eggs for $7,500. At that point the book becomes a thunker. The strand of hair strayed into my eyes a bit too long. Not sure if I want to go back.
Within the first few paragarphs the writer makes a contract with a reader: come with me. We'll learn something new. Together we'll do something.
Not sure we're doing something with Julie and Julia. Am I doing something with Lost Letters of Jane Austen?