Loyola University Chicago

Writing Center

Achieving “Flow”

We all know what it is like to read a piece of work that unfolds with clear logic and moves easily from sentence to sentence. But how do writers do that? Writers at every level work to give their work the elusive quality of "flow." For new writers, producing flow can feel impossible, especially during revision. Here are some tips for achieving flow in your writing, making your reader’s experience more enjoyable.

1) Although you may not think much about it, elaboration is the most natural way you achieve flow when you write and speak. When we listen or read, we expect each sentence to offer more information, explanation, or examples to clarify a topic or claim. For this reason, elaboration does not always require specific signal words and phrases.

Just look at the first paragraph on this page, for example: “For new writers, producing ‘flow’ can feel impossible, especially during revision.” This line provides a clarifying explanation to achieve flow.

Forgoing transitional phrases will keep your writing free of clutter and make flow easier. Still, there are some cases in which you will want to use a transition to show elaboration. Readers understand claims by moving back and forth between the general and the specific. These transitional words and phrases can help—but remember, you can always revise them or delete them if you decide the transition you're looking for is already implied:

  • To show agreement, or to make agreement emphatic:
    • Indeed
    • In fact
    • And
    • In addition to
    • Furthermore
    • Moreover
    • Too
    • Also
    • Likewise
  • Clearly signal examples or specific instances of a general principle:
    • For example
    • For instance
    • Namely
    • Such as
  • To show that you’re summing up or generalizing:
    • in other words
    • to put it simply
    • that is to say
  • To indicate you’re making a logical conclusion:
    • In sum
    • In conclusion
    • Thus
    • For this reason
    • Therefore
    • Then

2) Unlike elaboration, contrasts or qualifications are not usually implied. When you make a contrast or qualification, you want to indicate it with some sort of a transitions word or phrase. Transitions do important work, but they disrupt the flow of a paragraph or sentence; remember to use them sparingly:

  • But
  • Yet
  • On the contrary
  • Nevertheless
  • In spite of
  • In contrast
  • On the other hand
  • Rather