How's It Flowing?

Here's one of the biggest worries I hear from workplace writers: "My writing doesn't flow." While we don't really have a technical definition for "flow" at our disposal, we know what we mean when we say it:

We all want our writing to progress logically from idea to idea, in a way that won't lose or confuse our reader.

So how can we accomplish this? How can we write with flow? How can we order our sentences in such a way that the reader can easily follow along, free of frustration?

We have a couple sentence-level options:

  1. We can use a word thread, as in the example in the image above.

  2. We can connect new information to known information the reader's already read.

Both options focus on opening new sentences in a way that connects back to the previous sentence. We can either repeat words across sentences to create a connecting thread (as with the two references to solar power above) or we can repeat concepts by connecting new information to already-known information.

Here's an example of the latter:

  • Before (no flow): The applicant has 10 years of HR experience. They will bring valuable new perspectives to our team because of this background.

  • After (with flow): The applicant has 10 years of HR experience. Based on this background, they'll bring valuable new perspectives to our team.

In the revision, the second sentence "flows" from the first because as readers, we were already thinking about the applicant's experience or background after reading the first sentence. By opening the second sentence immediately with a reference to their "background," we start where the reader's at - instead of jumping around among topics.

Consider trying this out with your next document - especially if you're discussing something technical, scientific, or just all-around difficult. Adding flow by connecting sentence concepts will help your reader stay on track, keep reading, and keep understanding.

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