How To Make Your Writing Flow



we've seen how keeping your sentences short and punchy makes life easy for your reader we've also seen that the way you stretch your sentences can have a big impact on your clarity but that's not all if you want to keep your reader reading it's essential that your sentences knit together what I'm talking about here is making your writing flow giving your reader the sense that each sentence follows on naturally from the one that preceded it let's look at some examples I'm about to show you two passages both of which are designed to give the reader an introduction to the health drink known as kefir let's take a look at the first lactic acid bacteria yeast and polysaccharides are used to make kefir a thick drink made from milk the healthy organisms that culture the milk create a tangy slightly effervescent drink similar to yogurt the health benefits of kefir are primarily due to its effect on the gut although not all of the health claims surrounding Tevere are scientifically proven it is a healthy addition to any diet so how well did you feel that flowed did you feel that each sentence followed all naturally and almost inevitably from the one that went before or like me did you find the text slightly disorientating like it jumped around a lot we'll return to that text in a moment but first let's look at a passage that conveys exactly the same information but in a way that I think flows better kefir is a thick drink made by fermenting milk with kefir grains the grains are composed of lactic acid bacteria yeast and polysaccharides which culture the milk infusing it with healthy organisms the result of this culturing is a tungee slightly effervescent drink similar to yogurt that supports a healthy gut and offers numerous other purported health benefits many of the health claims surrounding kefir are yet to be scientifically proven but kefir may still be a healthy addition to any diet how did that compare with the first passage did you feel it flowed better I certainly did a let's take a look at why by returning to that first slightly disjointed passage to find a way into the passage let's start by applying a technique known as paragraph splitting that simply means putting a bit of air in there by breaking the paragraph into its constituent sentences with a few paragraph returns doing this allows you to see each sentence and the links between each sentence more clearly I highly recommend this technique when you are editing your own writing let's start by focusing on that first sentence lactic acid bacteria yeast and polysaccharides are used to make kefir a thick drink made from milk let's compare that sentence with the opening of the second passage kefir is a thick drink made by fermenting milk with kefir grains the grains are composed of lactic acid bacteria yeast and polysaccharides which culture the milk infusing it with healthy organisms what you notice about the difference between the two openings in particular what you notice about how each is structured in the first the sentence opens with lactic acid bacteria yeast and polysaccharides but this gets us off to a bad start because for a reader seeking an introductory guide to kefir it seems to come out of nowhere there's no context for it the reader starts off wondering why she's being told about lactic acid bacteria yeast and polysaccharides in contrast version 2 starts off on safe ground with the information the reader is already familiar with kefir she may not know exactly what kefir is but she knows it exists after all why else would she be browsing an introduction to it only once we're in familiar territory because we've established that this sentence is about kefir does the writer introduce the detail about fermented milk now understanding this movement from known old or familiar information to unknown new or less familiar information is absolutely key to understanding how to make your writing flow let's return to those two passages so returning to the first as we saw we've already got off to a bad start by jumping straight in with this new concept of lactic acid bacteria and stuff and then things go from bad to worse with the introduction of another piece of information that seems to come out of nowhere to the introduction of the detail about healthy organisms is the writer talking about the lactic acid bacteria the yeast something else here it's unclear because this point about healthy organisms doesn't follow on naturally from the end of the previous sentence which was about kefir being a thick drink made from milk similarly the first half of the third sentence talking about the health benefits of kefir do not have an obvious connection with the second half of the previous sentence which was all about kefir being similar to yogurt now yogurts widely considered to be healthy so the links are there if you think about them but they're not explicit which is why this passage feels disjointed and to help you understand where this disjointedness comes from more clearly let's look at the passage that does flow here it is again this time after paragraph splitting notice how the second sentence picks up the idea introduced at the end of the first sentence by talking again about the kefir grains in fact notice how the repetition of the word grains creates a clear strong link between the sentences you'll notice that there's a similar verbal and conceptual link between the end of the second sentence and the beginning of the third with culture and culturing mirroring each other the same is true of health benefits and health claims in the third and fourth sentences so within each sentence we see a movement from the familiar or known information to the unfamiliar and once the new or unfamiliar information is introduced at the end of a sentence it's no longer new so it then becomes the known or familiar information that opens the following sentence the result is a tightly knitted piece of writing that seems to flow because it's not jumping around or introducing information out of nowhere the passage has an identifiable a b b c CD pattern with each point picking up on the previous point so there you go for writing that flows just remember to move in the direction of known information to unknown information within a sentence and don't be afraid to repeat yourself if it helps your reader identify the links between sentences

3 thoughts on “How To Make Your Writing Flow

  1. Thanks very much for explaining how to make writing 'flow' from sentence to sentence. You've explained it clearly, and I like the way you labelled the sentence A to B, B to C, C to D. I would also assume that in spoken communication, you could very well follow the same rule. Much appreciated. Additionally, I am enjoying learning so much from your writing course!

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