Flow—that nebulous and sometimes elusive quality that is the object of many a writer's stylistic quest. But what, exactly, is it? Among teachers, students, and other writers, there are likely to be as many different interpretations of flow as there are people to ask. Flow could mean logical consistency to one person, while to another flow means the effective use of transitions and appropriate vocabulary. Still others may mean consistency of tone or audience awareness when they say flow. How, then, can we diagnose whether or not a paper flows? Look at the following categories and their respective links to discover ways to improve the flow of your own essays.
Logical ConsistencyLogical consistency is a matter of sense or because. It makes sense that something happens, or something happens because of something else. A crucial element here is the formation of relationships between words, sentences, and ideas.
If your essay is logically consistent, your thesis statement will remain the focus of the essay. To help you construct an essay with a clearly and coherently related thesis, you should check out this page.
- Paragraph Unity:
A logically consistent paragraph will maintain its topic focus; it will not introduce seemingly irrelevant topics haphazardly. Use this page to identify ways you can construct paragraphs of this nature.
- Transitional Expressions:
These connective words allow you to move from one thought to another while keeping a sense of logical unity in your writing. This page can show you how to use them and how to use them well.
Structural ConsistencyStructural consistency concerns how the various parts of an essay work in relation to one another, such as clause to clause, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. A structurally consistent essay contains variation and diversity in terms of form and construction; however, the structurally consistent essay will also maintain a sense of cohesion. The various parts will be coherently connected--they will relate to one another and hang together.
- Sentence Structure:
Through competent construction of your sentences your writing will be more clear and effective. This page will show you how to find this clarity.
- Sentence Variety:
By varying the types of sentences you use, you can create a greater sense of rhythm in your writing, making your work more pleasurable to read. See the Sentence Variety page learn more about its relation to "flow."
- Paragraph Unity:
The structurally sound paragraph will move your reader from paragraph to paragraph in a meaningful way--it won't be just trudging through another boring paper. See this page to help you build better paragraphs.
Tonal ConsistencyTonal consistency deals with expectation. As a writer you build a sense of expectation in your readers, teaching them to understand your meaning in a certain way. As an example, consider an essay which opens with a very serious tone, but in the middle it becomes very informal in tone without any sense of transition or any apparent relation to the essay's content. Then, as abruptly, the author moves into a serious and formal tone. Such a lack of consistency can confuse the readers.
In large part, audience will determine your tone. If you do not remain consistent in the approach you take to your audience you risk loosing your readers' attention. This page will give you strategies it improve your audience awareness.
Simply that--tone. This page will help you understand how tone functions in an essay and will help you find strategies to maintain a consistent tone.
- Word Usage:
Words have the potential for ambiguity, both as a benefit and as something more problematic. With that in mind, it is desirable to maintain a consistent diction, or a consistently inconsistent diction. For help with the particularities of using particular words you should check out this page.
- Semantic Field
In the wide-ranging world of words sometimes you need to build a fence and pick out a particular field. That is, you need to pick a range of diction that you think fits your audience and your purpose and then stick with it. The Semantic Field page will help you with these issues.