Flow

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What is it that makes you read a book? A good plot, yes. Relatable characters, of course. Correct punctuation, I'm sure.

So what am I getting at?

Well, what is your first thought when you read choppy sentences with no variety, all starting the same? Is it that the writer sounds unsophisticated? Does it make you want to gouge your eyes out of their sockets? Me too. Flow is the invisible structure beneath your story that holds it up and keeps it from breaking. Without it... well, I highly doubt your story would survive very long without burning all of its pages in hell.

I will go over all the the things to ensure that your story flows properly.


1. Transitions

Transitions are so important but so many people simply disregard them. I know your English teacher must have mentioned them, so why is it so hard for you to write them? Transitions are words that start your sentence. Saying "I" or "he" over and over again will not cut it, sorry slackers. If you ever want your reader's eyes to glide over the page effortlessly you better start making the beginning of your sentences sound different from one another.

2. Vocabulary

A wide range of vocabulary will make your life so much easier, I promise. Much like what I said about transitions, your sentences need variety. The more ways you find to describe the same or similar things the better your sentences will flow. Repetition is tedious and annoying; don't do it.

3. Sentence Length

Something that many writers forget, don't acknowledge, or just don't care about is their sentence length. The more you write, the more automatic this technique will become until it is habit. If you vary the length of your sentences, it makes your writing so much more interesting to read. Think about it: If you have fragment sentences scattered all over the page it might confuse your readers. On the other hand, really long sentences might make them fall asleep. You have to ration them both.

Example #1: No. She can't. No, no no. I hate people. They're mean. Good-bye social life. You've done me no good.

Example #2: No, oh my goodness, I cannot believe she told everyone my secrets and I mean everyone. Then everyone started looking at me all weird like I was an alien and they didn't want me near them because I was weird or something like that, I don't really know.

Example #3: No. I can't believe that Sara would do such a thing. I mean, we were friends. Weren't we? I stare at all the judging looks as I pass by my peers on the side walk. Whatever. I'm done with them now, anyway.

I really hope that you noticed that example #3 was the better version. Notice how there are short and long sentences intertwined? It makes for much better writing and, therefore, flow.

4. Switching Topics

Have you ever been reading a story and it was going fine but then suddenly the setting or the time completely changed? One sentence it was 1976 and in the the next, five years had passed. One of the largest issues with flow is that people don't know how to conclude a scene. Here's a tip: finish it on a cliff-hanger or a subtle note. Then start a new scene by entering twice. This will automatically inform your readers that things are changing. Or you can play out a scene until the end and have an event happen that leads up to the new scene. Never just say, "and then I slept for five years and finally woke up".

5. Character Personality

Often, people don't really know how to define what is wrong with a sentence, just that it isn't quite right. One common instance where you may have done something wrong was where you suddenly decided that your super shy and insecure character was going to have all of these really sassy quotes thrown into the mix. Make sure that you maintain your character's personality throughout the story because if you don't something will come off wrong.

6. Narration and Dialogue

There's too much narration. Dialogue is the vast majority of your story. . . . We've all heard it, so why don't we just listen? You know, these critics actually have a point. If you story is all dialogue, the flow is bound to be off, and the same goes for over-doing it with the narration. There needs to be a balance. Next time someone tells you that your flow is off, take a quick read through of your chapter and ask yourself these questions:

Do I have too much narration?

Is the dialogue overwhelming?

What can I afford to change?

7. Information Over-Dose

It is so, so tempting to just throw in all of your character's tragic past into five paragraphs, but you just can't do it. It will bore your readers and it doesn't flow any more. You remove your readers from the story when you fill their tired eyes with writing on their (*shudders*) back story. Sprinkle it all here and there, not all at once. There is such thing as "too much information". Take that to heart.


Nothing else comes to the top of my head when I think of flow. If you have other ideas, please tell me! I'll add it to the chapter straight away. Thanks so much for reading!


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