Writing that flows can be hard to define. However, when you read something without flow, you probably notice immediately. It’s clunky, rambling, and demands the reader to work too hard to grasp the writer’s concepts. And unfortunately if you write without flow, your reader may stop reading.
Writing that flows is like a running stream of water pouring out smoothly and freely. How do we create that? Today we’ll look at two ways. Writing that flows is organized and connected. Let’s take a closer look at these qualities. (for previous posts in this series (click here)
But before we do, a reminder: the best way to check the writing techniques I’m addressing in this series is to do this during your revisions. At first, get your writing down on paper/computer. Just write! (Click here for tips on how to just write)
Flow means paragraphs are organized
Writers use paragraphs to organize writing in chunks of information. We can keep a simple paragraph formula in mind. The first sentence should be the topic sentence stating what that paragraph is about. It’s followed by supporting sentences which further expand the topic. We can end the paragraph with a summary sentence. As you grow as a writer, you don’t need to follow a formula, but it’s always a good idea to keep basic writing rules in mind.
Author Margaret Feinberg provides some of my favorite examples of writing that flows. I’m reading her book, Wonder Struck, so let’s look at a sample from this book.
“Though our living room table isn’t magical, as I sit on the couch, feet perched on its wooden frame, and review its scars, I recognize the antique as symbolic of the wonder God had been awakening in my life. The table is physically composed of rich and meaningful imagery, its surface an actual door –representative of opportunity and invitation, hope and possibility.”
Do you hear and see the flow in this paragraph? Notice how she follows the pattern of an organized paragraph. She establishes the paragraph’s topic in the first sentence: our living room table. The following supporting sentences relate to that topic. And then she sums up succinctly with the symbolic representation of the table.
Flow means ideas within and between paragraphs are connected
Writers can create flow within and between paragraphs by using transitions to connect ideas. Remember the picture of the flowing water. Transitions keep that water flowing.
Transitions, which can be a single word or a phrase, serve the purpose of letting your reader know you’re changing directions. That change might be one of these: addition, emphasis, comparison, contrast, or conclusion. Some examples of transitions include: for example, after, when, first, finally, however, on the other hand, as we can see, tomorrow. (Just google transitions and you’ll find lots of lists). These transitions allow your reader to continue to follow your line of thinking.
You can vary where you place the transition: at the beginning of the sentence or within, as you see in the example paragraphs below with the transitions in bold.
As my jeans got tighter and my age crept higher, I knew I needed to get more exercise. So I began to poll some of my friends to learn about their routines.
While their examples stirred some ideas, I, nevertheless, knew I had to adopt a routine that would work for me. I decided to do one longer walk per day without the dogs. Then I included one shorter dog walk, usually at the end of the day. And at least two times per week I did weights. Finally, I still did yoga once or twice per week. I wasn’t at the level I needed to be. But at the same time, I knew I was making progress by increasing my activity.
As a writing coach and editor, and as a person who ends every single day with reading, I can attest that lack of flow is one of the most common problems I see, and it’s one of the problems I can help you with. After you’ve written your draft, return for revising to check your writing flow. Do you see paragraphs that need organization and transitions?
One of the things that makes me (Melanie) happiest is seeing others grow in their writing calling. To give you a glimpse into what it’s like to work with me at Next Step Coaching Services, here’s what one of my recent clients said:
Contracting with Next Step Coaching Services is a critical component of my ministry journey. Next Step meets my need for affordable, Christ-centered, and honest one-on-one evaluations of my writing. Beyond the contractual components, my coach is also one of my greatest cheerleaders. The Next Step coaching process absolutely improves my writing skills and increases my confidence to move forward… I no longer feel the burden of “doing it alone.”
-Charla Matthews, Teacher and Writer
Sign-up for a free consultation call (click here) to talk about how I can help as your writing coach and/or editor. I look forward to helping you!