How to Improve the Flow of Ideas in Your Writing

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What is your greatest struggle with formal writing? I’m guessing one of the two: inventing ideas for your texts or making your text effortless to read.

Today, I’ll focus on the flow of ideas which makes the text easy to read.

Why should you even care?

Well, the so called “reception” or “reaction” to the text by the reader is among the official evaluation criteria for writing.

What does it mean? What is really evaluated?

  • if the text is understandable and well organised as a whole
    • does it read well and without effort?
    • does the reader have to guess what the author had in mind?
  • if paragraphs are well organised
    • are all the ideas developed, explained, justified?
    • are they logically connected?
  • if appropriate register is used
    • are the text and language formal?
    • is appropriate format used, e.g for a memo, letter, email, report?

I’ve covered some of those ideas in my ebooks where I offer templates of different formants and previous blog articles:

formal language

paragraph structure

However, today, I’d like to write more about how to make the text easy and effortless to read and well organised at the same time.

How to Improve the Flow of Ideas

1. AVOID STRINGS OF SIMPLE SENTENCES

Vary the sentences in your writing by using simple, compound and complex sentences. 

Simpel sentences

The accident at the shooting range was serious. Nobody was injured.

A compound sentence is made up of two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so) and a comma.

Example: The accident at the shooting range was serious, but nobody was injured.

Complex Sentence

A complex sentence combines a dependent clause with an independent clause. When the dependent clause is placed before the independent clause, the two clauses are divided by a comma; otherwise, no punctuation is necessary.

Example: Although the accident at the shooting range was serious, nobody was injured. 

Compound-Complex Sentences

A compound-complex sentence is composed of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.

Example: Although the accident at the shooting range was serious and caused concerns about the security of training, no serious steps were taken to improve the situation. 

2. REFER TO OLD INFORMATION

Connect ideas by referring to old information by by using: this or these + noun

Example: Online shopping may entail various inconveniences. THESE disadvantages may discourage consumers from this form of purchasing goods. 

3. USE PRONOUNS TO CONNECT IDEAS

Refer to old information using pronouns (he, she, it they, its, their or a definite article the).

The candidates are required to not only to master writing formal texts, but THEY are also required to be able to engage in a conversation on a professional topic. 

4. USE INTRODUCTORY PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES

To place ideas in a context and vary the sentence structure, begin the sentence with a prepositional phrase.

Prepositional phrase is:

a preposition (+ adjective) + noun

During the national anthem, one is supposed to stand and face the flag.

Example: I am deeply concerned about the quality of your customer service. In your electronics department, the behaviour of personnel leaves a lot be desired. 

5. REPEAT BUT VARY THE KEY WORDS AND IDEAS

Example: Caffeine withdrawal can indeed cause headaches. Many espresso drinkers find that if they stop drinking coffee for one day, they get a headache. This result seems to occur whether or not the coffee drinker drinks a large amount of this hot beverage every day. 

6. USE CONNECTING AND LINKING WORDS

Connecting and linking words help to link ideas to each other and show their logical connection. Though they prove very useful, don’t exaggerate with the linking words.

Example: The effect of training may depend on individual preferences. For some, intensive work will be motivating and will encourage them to greater effort. For others it can, however, become overwhelming and thus discourage them. 

Would you like to practise STANAG 6001 writing and speaking with me? Join one of my workshops.

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