Flow is one of the most difficult things to get right when writing. The whole piece needs to feel like its all one seamless thread. This is an integral component as the reader needs to emerse themselves into your writing, and focus on what’s said, not how it’s said.
Akin to a speech, where pausing in the right place adds effect, it’s all about tempo and pace.
Whilst some speakers gauge the crowds reaction others plod along as if forced. The content is the same but the delivery differs.
The fundamental rule for both non fiction and fiction writing is to present things in a logical, meaningful way.
Five essential tips on making your writing flow:
1 – Holistic Overview.
People tend to write in sections. There is nothing wrong with that. But getting caught up in how a section fits into the overall piece is a critical mistake.
Flow is something that comes very easily to me. Although I love a ‘killer’ sentence as much as anyone, I don’t let it get in the way of the whole paragraph, page or chapter. All paragraphs should be the same length, even if they are explaining an important detail, and even if you were ‘In the zone’. Indulging yourself will lead to a paragraph standing out like a sore thumb.
2 – Be like Spock…Embrace Logic.
Logic is one of the most important aspects of writing. If something does not follow logic, the reader will question the content. Logic can be used in two ways within your writing.
a)Does the third paragraph follow on from the second. Is there continuity between paragraphs four and five? If not, you’ll lose your audience because they’ll see that you’re not making sense. That’s the first part of using logic in your writing. b)Make sure that what you are saying starts off with a single point, and builds on that point with successive points, and eventually concludes. To do this you will need to avoid using meandering or inserting words, sentences or paragraphs that really have nothing to do with what you are writing about. If it does not advance the plot, lose it. Rhetoric is outlawed. Logic equates to cohesiveness that can only be achieved by laying out the route in an easy to follow manner.
Example : Directions to your house. The best starting point would be from where your audience is coming from. You would write down the direction and add a landmark for them to reach. Then you would add some detail, like a shop on the corner they will turn down. You would carry on writing these directions down to landmarks, as well as adding footnotes and details for correct orientation until you finally arrived at the destination. This is how you write logically. You can’t put in the seventh turn before you put in the second or first. Everything has to be in order. Logic is what makes sense to the reader.
3 – Connect the dots
Rather connect the paragraphs. Let’s say that you have created an amazing set of paragraphs for your chapter? Once you’ve created the paragraphs and the underlying points , it’s hugely important to link them together properly. Transitions need to be put in place so the reader can move from one point to the next without causing a loss of train of thought. This retain useful information and key elements of the plot. Transitions get the reader ready for the next point. Successful fiction writers use transitions to build tension. Non Fiction writers use transitions to reinforce their previous point and refocus the attention in the new direction.
4 – Keep it Smooth.
Only a ‘special’ type of author likes to edit their work. Don’t misunderstand me, we all know the importance of editing, but few actively view the process with anything resembling excitement. To fully appreciate and get a feeling for a whole document it has to be read, from beginning to end. Many times over, in different ways. Perhaps once for content, another for grammar checking and yet another for logic. Many people are only able to be in one state of mind at a time. If you are looking out for logic, content and grammar at the same time, it is hard to give any manuscript the attention it deserves.on a track when reading. When editing you need to be in different mindsets, especially when it is your own work. Detaching your mind and objectively looking for a specific thing will help spot bumps in the road and mistakes around the corner.
5 – What’s the point?
No really what’s the point? Story writing 101 is that you have a general point or series of points that you want to communicate to the reader. For your manuscript to flow smoothly, the writing needs to have a rhythm and skip like a skimming stone thrown over a lake, from point to point. for that to happen, you need to map out all the points, and write them down. If a point gets glossed over it will infuriate a reader. A simple plan of the journey you want the reader to travel greatly helps with your flow.
Flow in writing is an art but it is also a science. competence will only improve the more you practice .
I hope that this article helps if you are currently trying to improve the flow of your writing.
Neil Sehmbhy is a budding young author from a little town that calls itself a city and changes everyday. Author of the forthcoming Corporation, Jinx and Sunder novels he loves reading, writing and cheese toasties. Follow him on twitter @NeilSehmbhy