5 Tips On Improving Your Writing Flow

5 Tips On Improving Your Writing Flow

improve writing flow

 

This guest post on how to improve your writing flow was written by Asha Caldwell.   

There’s no single best way to define what writing “flow” looks like, but the Writing Center at the University of Carolina explains that writing that “flows” is a piece that can be read smoothly from beginning to end. Readers should be able to easily establish connections between ideas without stopping or having to reread. To put it simply, it’s writing that’s easy to digest and follow. To make your writing flow seamlessly, it has to be cohesive and well-written.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Tip #1: Sentence and Word Variety

Vary the types of sentences you use. You should mix up the length of the sentences to create a natural rhythm for your readers. This ensures that they are carried from one sentence to the next, enabling them to move easily through the prose. Additionally, you should also make sure that you don’t keep repeating the same words. If writing fiction, there are some words that should be used sparingly, with the most infamous ones being “look” and “said.” Check out our ‘Reduce Overused Emotion Words In Your Book’ post for tips on how to conquer crutch words.

Tip #2: Brevity

World famous author Stephen King in On Writing highlighted the need to always be looking to eliminate unnecessary words and phrases as a crucial step in writing. King relates how some of the best advice given to him was to always look to take things out during the rewrite. He emphasizes how simple writing delivers without the need to over-explain. For example, a sentence with too many descriptive words or unnecessary articles can detract readers from understanding what you want to convey.

Tip #3: Structure

The structure of an article or e-book is fundamental in terms of flow. A reader should be able to easily follow the prose as it moves from one topic to the next. If the writing lacks a cohesive through-line the reader can easily get distracted or lost. When writing an article, you should outline the key points in the introduction and continually refer back to them throughout the article.

Tip #4: Old-to-New

An old-to-new approach to writing means you don’t presume that readers are familiar with the subject matter. Instead, writing experts at the University of Arizona recommend that you consider anything already mentioned in the piece to be old and all concepts and ideas written for the first time to be new. This lets you build a solid foundation for your readers that they can easily follow. Anything you’ve already put in writing can serve as a springboard for future paragraphs and sections. Writing this way reduces the likelihood of readers needing time to pause and do additional research on the topic, which hinders them from reading the material as intended.

Tip #5: Inspiration

Writing should be inspirational, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.  Put simply, there has to be a purpose behind your writing. There has to be an end goal. For fiction writers, outline the story’s key points so you know what the ideas are leading up to. Similarly, nonfiction writers should have a thesis statement or a definite opinion on which everything hinges. This helps you streamline your piece and keep everything in a cohesive flow.

Just as everyone has their own writing style, each writer has their own way to make their writing flow. That being said, these tips are excellent starting points for finding your unique flow.

 

Behind The Rewrite With C.E Flores: Revisions Inspired By Free Editing Class

Behind The Rewrite With C.E Flores: Revisions Inspired By Free Editing Class

Free editing course

Today’s Behind the Rewrite meant a lot to me as author C.E. Flores made her revisions after taking my free editing class, Line Editing Made Simple: 5 Days to More Polished Pages. If you haven’t gone through the course, be sure to sign up. And if you took it a long time ago, sign up again as it now has an online classroom component and interactive quiz. But first, read this informative post from C.E. Flores as she gives a behind the scenes glimpse into polishing up her nonfiction book on herbal remedies.

Recently I published Volume 2 in my Mexican Herbal Remedy series. Since I needed to update the back matter to include information about the second book, I decided to use this opportunity to make some changes to Volume 1. Stacy Juba’s free course, Line Editing Made Simple: 5 Days to More Polished Pages, helped my editing processes tremendously.

First, I searched through my writing for crutch words as instructed in Lesson 1. Since my non-fiction book focuses on the medicinal uses of certain herbs, would you be surprised to learn that the word “use” was entirely overused? I found it in various forms (used, use, using, useful), at least five to ten times per chapter. I rewrote almost all of those sentences using synonyms such as remedy, treatment, therapy, and so on.

Then, from Lesson 3, I went through the book again, looking for the five common offenders (some, that, very, as, just). I found entirely too many instances of “some,” “that,” and “just” plus my personal nemesis “so.” Those sentences received a little tightening up. Additionally, I took a leaf out of Lesson 5’s book and checked my prepositions. “In order to” was there almost as many times as “use” had been. Wordy phrases–be gone!

Lesson 4 had me go back through for dangling modifiers that disrupt the meaning of the sentence. I was guilty there as well. Some of the sentences needed complete rewrites. I took this opportunity to reduce passive voice use as well. I most certainly want to say what I mean and mean what I say when writing about these fascinating herbs and be clear about it.

I took to heart Stacy’s comment, “Your job is to finish your manuscript and to make it your best work, a professional book that will stand out from the competition and attract positive attention.”

Since I was on a roll, I made a few additional changes. The herb book was initially designed to record my own experiences with Mexican remedies. After completing Volume 2, I felt like I had a better idea of what I wanted to accomplish and what would appeal more to my readers. So, in my editing process for Volume 1, I took out several personal anecdotes about the herbs and added a bit more history in some cases and scientific support in others.

Then I switched out most of the images with better quality ones. After all, part of learning about the traditional use of these herbs was proper plant identification. A higher resolution image will aid herbalists interested in foraging their own supply. I also changed the cover so that it was more similar to other herb books on the market. With a much-improved manuscript, I republished Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico: An Introduction to Natural Healing. Thanks for your guidance, Stacy!

 

More About The Book

free editing course

Curanderos (healers) in Mexico still practice traditional herbal remedies learned centuries ago. It is only recently that scientists have begun to take these healing practices seriously. Study after study has validated the medicinal use of plants native to North America and those brought by the Spanish after the conquest. It’s time to reexamine the basic healing power in 34 common remedies used by traditional Mexican healers.

In Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico: An Introduction to Natural Healing, you’ll discover:

  • 34 traditional Mexican remedies
  • Effective herbal treatments for common ailments
  • Well-researched scientific support for herbal use
  • Accurate botanical identification of native Mexican plants

Buy it on Amazon.

More About C.E. Flores

C.E. Flores was born in the Eastern United States and currently lives in central Mexico. She received her Bachelor’s in Education at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and picked up her husband while attending there. She writes about her wild and crazy off-grid life in rural Mexico as well as references books for ex-pats, writers, bloggers, preppers, and herbalists.

Website: Surviving Mexico: Adventures and Disasters OR Content Creative 

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Take Stacy’s Free Line Editing Course

Does the thought of editing your book seem overwhelming? If your manuscript could use trimming and polishing, sign up for this free mini course. It features bite-sized concepts and assignments to help you kick-start your line editing.

  • Lesson 1: The one thing that will jump-start your editing.
  • Lesson 2: Three mistakes you may be making and what to do instead.
  • Lesson 3: Five little words you need to start cutting now.
  • Lesson 4: The truth about editing.
  • Lesson 5: Struggling with wordy sentences? This will help.

Enroll here.

 

 

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

Behind The Rewrite With @JudyPenzSheluk: Varied Words Aren’t Always a Given

 

varied words

When I read Judy Penz Sheluk’s Behind the Rewrite post, I chuckled as boy, does it ring true! We all have crutch words and phrases that we rely on when we’re talking to others. It drives me crazy when I listen to myself in a podcast interview and hear myself say “you know.” Writers also have to worry about using crutch words in their books. One of my favorite, (okay, overused) words in my own fiction is “as.”  As a developmental editor, I’ve discovered that EVERY writer has their favorite overused words. Judy’s post is a great lesson for beginner writers and a terrific reminder for seasoned authors.

It was while golfing this past summer that I first noticed it. Every time one of my foursome hit an errant shot—and there were many—she’d say, “Are you kidding me?” At first, I found it amusing. After a while, I started counting the number of times she’d say it. I stopped at seventeen.

I remember thinking, at the time, that I could never get away with that in a novel. True, characters have quirks, and dialogue needs to be authentic, but too many “Are you kidding me’s” and the reader is going to find it distracting at best, and annoying at worst. 

That thought was firmly in my mind when I was rereading Where There’s A Will, the third and final book in my Glass Dolphin cozy mystery series, before sending out ARCs and getting the manuscript ready for my proofreader. 

Because I’d already read the book more times than I cared to remember, and because it had gone through four beta readers, I didn’t expect to find any instances of “Are you kidding me?” and I didn’t. What I did find was an inordinate number of “given this or that…” And when I say inordinate I mean twenty-nine. How had I missed those? How had everyone else?

Since the “givens” were scattered throughout the book, I’m going to share six examples, before and after. 

Example #1

Before: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life, given that she had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

After: The break-up with Hudson had caused a few minor ripples in Emily’s life. She had recently become engaged to his best friend, Luke Surmanski, but it was nothing they couldn’t work around.

Example #2

Before: Emily had hesitated at first, given what she knew about the property’s history. How many people wanted to buy a house where the owner had been murdered, especially since the case had never been solved?

After: Didn’t change a word. Some “givens” are okay, and I thought it worked well in this instance.

Example #3

Before: Emily didn’t believe him, given that he was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

After: Emily didn’t believe him. He was the CEO of Pemberton Productions and his TV show had been a ratings winner for the past five seasons.

Example #4

Before: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, given that she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

After: Arabella wanted to laugh out loud. Trust Poppy to refer to a murder as a “circumstance.” Then again, maybe she was being a hypocrite, since she’d just signed a contract with Faye Everett.

Example #5

Before: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, given enough time and perspective.

After: In Arabella’s experience, all secrets tended to weigh heavily, with enough time and perspective.

Example #6

Before: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence given this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

After: They agreed to split up, Levon staying at the Hadley house to finish the appraisal, time being of the essence with this latest set of circumstances, and Arabella charged with finding a lawyer.

overused words

Want To Read The Book?

Emily Garland is getting married and looking for the perfect forever home. When the old, and some say haunted, Hadley house comes up for sale, she’s convinced it’s “the one.” The house is also perfect for reality TV star Miles Pemberton and his new series, House Haunters. Emily will fight for her dream home, but Pemberton’s pockets are deeper than Emily’s, and he’ll stretch the rules to get what he wants.

While Pemberton racks up enemies all around Lount’s Landing, Arabella Carpenter, Emily’s partner at the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, has been hired to appraise the contents of the estate, along with her ex-husband, Levon. Could the feuding beneficiaries decide there’s a conflict of interest? Could Pemberton?

Things get even more complicated when Arabella and Levon discover another will hidden inside the house, and with it, a decades-old secret. Can the property stay on the market? And if so, who will make the winning offer: Emily or Miles Pemberton?

Buy it on:

Amazon

More About Judy

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreaks & Half-truths, which she also edited. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Chair on the Board of Directors. 

Visit her around the web:

Website/Blog

Facebook 

Twitter 

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Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Are you a writer who could use some editing tips? Check out Stacy’s free resources:

Line Editing Made Simple–5 Days to More Polished Pages  – Free e-mail class packed with line editing tips

Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group – Download the guide, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb in Unit 1.

How To Name Your Characters: Tips Every Fiction Writer Should Know – Check out this extensive post on naming your characters, an informative video tour of 7 character-naming sites, and a free PDF guide that summarizes all the information.

Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable – Learn how to streamline the editing process in this affordable, self-paced online course that will empower beginner and intermediate writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money. A steppingstone to hiring an editor.

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