The concept of flow might be the most single important element of style since cavemen picked up the chisel. I generally advise that your reader is like a dim-witted five year-old with a short attention span and little interest in what you’re saying. If you jump around with what you’re talking about, they will generally give up. A teacher or professor will start thinking about what grade to give your essay, and a friend or parent, how to get it over with ASAP to end the pain. Addressing the flow, or going from one thought to the next to the next to the next from start of essay to end of essay can be a game changer and turn crap writing into elegant prose.

There are a couple of ways to think about it:

#1. Go from old information (what you were just writing about) to new information in your sentence. (To simplify, NAUGHTY: Ted likes grapes. Pancakes have maple syrup, which he liked, too. NICE: Ted likes grapes. While he likes grapes, he also likes pancakes, which have maple syrup.)

#2. Vary Sentence Structure. Don’t beat your reader to death with language. It’s just not nice. (To simplify, NAUGHTY: The wall is blue. Walls are flat. They stop the wind. I like walls.= ugh! NICE: This wall is blue, and like most walls, it is flat. The fact that they stop the wind is what I like about them)

#3. Use Transitionary word and phrases. (To simplify, NAUGHTY: Julia wore striped suspenders. She disliked that they rode up on her when she straddled the unicycle. Genie did not wear suspenders. She did like the way they looked on camels. NICE: Julia wore striped suspenders. Unfortunately, she disliked that the they rode up on her when she straddled the unicycle. On the other hand, Genie did not wear suspenders. However, she did like the way they looked on camels.

Trainwreck Version:

From the beginning of time, humans have struggled with grief.  In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh loses his friend Enkidu when he dies.  Enkidu makes love to a prostitute.  The two of them go to kill the giant in the magical forest, Humbaba.  Enkidu’s death is difficult for Gilgamesh.  He goes to the after world to try to bring him back.  His grief stops him from maturing.  Gilgamesh eventually becomes a man after he returns from the after world.  

Comment: ??? A series of disconnected thoughts highlighted by a seemingly random sexual encounter. When’s lunch?

Badass Version:

The ancient Sumerians were preoccupied with death and the grief that results from death.  This preoccupation appears in The Epic of Gilgamesh, a text about Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his friend, Enkidu.  When Enkidu is killed by Humbaba, a giant monster guarding the magical forest, Gilgamesh cannot rid himself of the weight of his friend’s death.  As a result, Gilgamesh decides to travel to the after world to attempt to bring back Enkidu.  However, in the process, Gilgamesh remains immature due to his fixation on the grief of his loss, and cannot grow past his own selfish understanding of a world that exists only for him.  After he gives up his mourning, he develops a sense of empathy for others, finally achieving a state of “maturity.”

Comment: A+ kid, A+. Sorry, but no time for prostitutes.