When you write, you need to find your rhythm.
It’s like dancing. There’s a cadence and a step and a flow and movement.
The reader’s eyes should dance through your words, finding new interest in every word, phrase and paragraph.
Rhythm in writing is a bit harder to define than other elements of the writing craft, but the cadence of your writing can go a long way toward pulling your readers in and making the experience enjoyable.
As a writer, it can be easy to get wonderfully lost crafting images, foreshadowing major plot twists, building motifs, and sculpting seamless wordplay. You can love playing with these elements in your work, but never at the expense of another key facet of the craft of storytelling: rhythm in writing.
Though the words we write are frozen on the (physical or digital) page, meter, flow, and cadence can still make a huge difference between text that bores and text that grooves.
AI text generators are notoriously clunky, wooden dancers!
Writing flow refers to the smoothness and continuity of a piece of writing. It is the way that ideas and sentences connect and build upon one another, creating a sense of coherence and unity. A piece of writing with good flow makes it easy for the reader to understand and follow the author’s train of thought.
To achieve a good flow in your writing, you can use techniques such as:
- Smoothly transitioning between ideas and paragraphs
- Using clear and consistent sentence structures
- Using transitional words and phrases to connect ideas
- Maintaining a consistent tone and style throughout the piece.
Additionally, you can use various stylistic techniques such as repetition, parallelism, and using a consistent level of formality to help improve the flow of your writing.
Finally, it’s important to revise and edit your writing to ensure that the ideas and sentences connect well and the overall piece is easy to understand.
Smoothly Transitioning Between Ideas and Paragraphs
Below is an example of a paragraph that doesn’t flow.
The weather was beautiful today. I went for a walk in the park. The flowers were in full bloom. I saw a lot of people there. They were having a picnic. The sun was shining. It was a perfect day.
- The paragraph jumps abruptly from describing the weather to talking about the park without a clear transition.
- The sentences do not connect logically with each other, and the ideas jump around without a clear focus.
- There is no clear connection between the different parts of the paragraph, the weather, the park, the flowers and the people having a picnic.
- There is no clear reason why the author is describing the weather and the park, and how they are related.
By revising the paragraph, adding transitions, and making sure the ideas connect logically, the paragraph will have a better flow, and it will be easier for the reader to understand and follow the author’s train of thought.
And here’s how the paragraph could be rewritten to have flow:
I woke up to a beautiful day, the sun shining and the temperature just right, so I decided to take a walk in the park. As I strolled through the greenery, I couldn’t help but notice the colorful flowers in full bloom. The park was bustling with people, many of whom were enjoying picnics on the lush grass. The warm sun and lively atmosphere made for the perfect day to be outside.
Using Clear and Consistent Sentence Structures
“The dog, who was wagging his tail excitedly, raced across the field, chasing after the ball that had been thrown, but it was too far away, so he decided to lay down in the grass, feeling a bit disappointed, but also content with the warm sunshine on his fur.”
- The sentence starts with a noun phrase “The dog” and ends with a prepositional phrase “on his fur” which makes it too long and hard to follow
- The sentence is a mix of different verb tenses “was wagging”, “raced”, “had been thrown”, “decided to lay down” which makes it hard to understand the timing of events
- The sentence is a mix of different clauses “who was wagging his tail excitedly”, “chasing after the ball that had been thrown” and “feeling a bit disappointed, but also content with the warm sunshine on his fur” which makes it hard to understand the main idea
- The sentence uses too many conjunctions “but” and “and” which makes it hard to follow
- The sentence is a mix of different moods “excitedly”, “disappointed” and “content” which makes it hard to understand the overall feeling of the dog.
A better version of the sentence could be:
“The dog wagged his tail excitedly as he chased after the ball thrown across the field, but it was too far away. He lay down in the grass, feeling a bit disappointed but enjoying the warm sunshine on his fur.”
Using Transitional Words and Phrases to Connect Ideas
“I went to the store. I bought some groceries. I was running late. I didn’t have time to cook dinner. So I decided to order takeout. It was delicious. I watched a movie on TV.”
- The paragraph jumps abruptly from one idea to the next, making it hard to follow the author’s train of thought.
- There is no clear connection between the first sentence and the second sentence.
- The third sentence is not clearly related to the second sentence.
- The fourth sentence is not related to the previous sentence.
- The fifth sentence does not show any relation to the fourth sentence.
- The last sentence does not connect to the fifth sentence.
Transitional words and phrases, such as “because,” “so,” “however,” “therefore,” and “furthermore” among others, can be used to connect ideas and create a smoother flow in writing.
By using them, the reader can understand the relationship between different sentences and paragraphs.
Here’s how it could be rewritten:
“I wanted to buy some groceries from the store for dinner, but I was running late. As I didn’t have time to cook dinner, I decided instead to order takeout. Lucky for me it was absolutely delicious, and with the time I saved I was able to watch a fun movie too.”
Maintaining a Consistent Tone and Style
“I can’t believe how beautiful the sunset was last night. The colors were absolutely breathtaking, like a painting come to life. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe as I watched the sun dip below the horizon. But then I remembered that I had a paper due the next day and my heart sank. I spent the rest of the night hunched over my computer, typing away frantically. It was a real drag, I tell you.”
- The paragraph starts with a positive and descriptive tone, but then shifts to a negative and abrupt tone when the writer remembers about the paper due.
- The language used to describe the sunset is poetic and evocative, but the language used to describe the paper is casual and abrupt.
- The paragraph starts with a description of the setting but then switches to the writer’s personal experience and feelings, creating a disjoint
In general, it’s important to maintain a consistent tone and style throughout a piece of writing to keep the reader engaged and understanding the idea or the message that you are trying to convey.
Walkthrough of Writing That Lacks Flow
Below is an example of an article that lacked flow in the introduction. In the first few steps of a waltz, you need to get the right rhythm from the very beginning. Otherwise your entire dance/article will suffer.
Do You Have a Logical Flow of Information?
It’s important each of your headings logically lead into each other. This adds rhythm and flow to your article. Here’s a quick example:
Is Your Writing Readable?
You still need to use your own judgement. Don’t rely entirely on machines to tell you whether your writing is good, or not.