Make Your Paragraphs Flow to Improve Writing

Make Your Essay Flow

building-blocks.jpg
Bastun/E+/Getty Images

Your written report, whether it is a creative, three-paragraph essay, or it is an extensive research paper, must be organized in a way that presents a satisfying experience for the reader. Sometimes it just seems impossible to make a paper flow—but that generally happens because your paragraphs aren’t arranged in the best possible order.

Two essential ingredients for a great-reading report are logical order and smart transitions.

Create Flow With Better Paragraph Order

The first step toward creating "flow" is making sure your paragraphs are put together in a logical order. Many times, the first draft of a report or essay is a little choppy and out of sequence.

The good news about writing an essay of any length is that you can use "cut and paste" to rearrange your paragraphs. At first this might sound terrifying: when you finish a draft of an essay it feels much like you have given birth—and cutting and pasting sounds pretty brutal. Don’t worry. You can simply use a practice version of your paper to experiment with.

Once you have finished a draft of your paper, save it and name it. Then make a second version by selecting the entire first draft and pasting it into a new document.

1. Now that you have a draft to experiment with, print it out and read it over. Do the paragraphs and topics flow in a logical order? If not, assign each paragraph a number and write the number in the margin.

Don’t be at all surprised if you find that a paragraph on page three looks like it could work on page one. It’s entirely possible!

2. Once you’ve numbered all the paragraphs, start cutting and pasting them until they match your numbering system.

3. Now, re-read your essay. If the order works better, you can go ahead and insert transition sentences between paragraphs.

4. Read both versions of your paper and confirm that your new version reads better.

 

Create Flow With Transition Words

Transitions can involve a few words or a few sentences. Transition sentences (and words) are necessary for making connections between the claims, views, and statements you make. If you can imagine your report as a quilt made up of many squares, you could think of your transition statements as the stitches that connect the squares. Red stitches might make your quilt ugly, while white stitching would give it "flow."

For some types of writing, transitions can contain just a few simple words. Words like also, furthermore, and yet, can be used to connect one idea to another.

I had to walk two miles each morning to get to school. Yet, the distance was not something I considered a burden.
   I enjoyed walking to school when my friend Rhonda walked with me and talked about her travels.     

For more sophisticated essays, you’ll need a few sentences to make your paragraphs flow:

Example:

While the research was conducted at a university in Colorado, there is no evidence that altitude was considered to be a factor ...
    A similar exercise was carried out in the mountain state of West Virginia, where similar extremes of altitude exist.

You will find that it is easy to come up with transitions, once you get your paragraphs arranged in the most logical order.