5 Flow Part 1: Create Logical Connections for Flow in Your Writing -->

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5 Flow Part 1: Create Logical Connections for Flow in Your Writing

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You may know how to self-edit for punctuation and proper APA citation and how to paraphrase previously published material, but how can you tell if what you wrote really flows? More urgently, what steps are you supposed to take if your faculty instructor or committee chairperson tells you to revise to improve “flow”? What are some ways to incorporate that kind of feedback?

While there are many specific guidelines and clear rules for you to follow for some elements of grammar and style, we are all running after that elusive quality of “flow” in our writing, and sometimes it’s hard to tell how to achieve it. Beth Nastachowksi laid out five principles that can help create flow in your writing, the first of which is creating logical connections between ideas.

Logic and Assignment Goals
How to achieve appropriate logical flow depends somewhat on the goals of your writing. For instance, in courses you will need to write essays and research papers to develop a specific thesis and support it with evidence and analysis. In order to achieve logical connections in this type of writing, you will need to construct a sound academic argument—that means conveying to your reader how you analyzed the evidence and connecting everything together to argue a point.

In a standard, thesis-driven academic essay, making logical connections between ideas is central to achieving the purpose of the assignment. You still need to create logical connections between your ideas, though, even if you are writing with a different goal. As a scholar, you will need to learn to support and argue a point, but you will also need to learn to discuss, explore, explain, reflect, summarize, synthesize, question, and participate in many other intellectual activities in a logical, scholarly way. No matter the goal of your writing, make sure the decisions you make as an author always seem logical to your reader.

Building Connections
As an example, let’s say you are a doctoral student writing a literature review for your dissertation. Your goal in this section is to summarize and assess current research on your dissertation topic and in your field—this means not only explaining to your reader what other researchers have said but synthesizing what they said and showing your reader how your dissertation will fit into the academic conversation. How do you make sure you have synthesized that previous research in a logical way?

Whenever you connect two pieces of evidence together, the first step is to make sure your reader knows the connection you are trying to make. If you have a sentence with paraphrased material from one source followed by a sentence with paraphrased material from a second source, it isn’t necessarily obvious how those two sources connect. Putting two sentences next to each other is not enough to show your reader what those sentences have to do with one another; are you making a comparison? introducing a contradiction? building the second idea from the first? Rely on transitional words and phrases to signal to your reader how the different pieces of evidence logically fit together and when you move from one point to the next. (You will hear more about transitions later in this flow blog series.)

Keeping Connections Strong
As you make these logical connections clear to your reader, make sure those connections themselves make sense. Logical fallacies are examples of ways an author can rely on connections that aren’t really there, or at least are not as strong as the author thinks. If you visualize logical connections as the bridges connecting different ideas, a logical fallacy is a bridge that will collapse when you try to stand on it!

Some of the more common types of logical fallacies you will want to avoid include things like circular reasoning, hasty generalizations, and non sequiturs. The thing to remember about logical fallacies is that they can seem to make sense at first, but when you look deeper, the connection disappears. That is why is it useful to review the types of common logical fallacies so you know what to watch out for in your own drafts.

Think of including logical connections in your writing as drawing a map for your reader. As you read over your own work, make sure you ask yourself, “Will my reader know how I got from here to there? Will they be able to follow that same path?” If you use sound logic and clear language to signal the connection between ideas, it is easier for your reader to get to where you want them to go! And those are the first steps in creating flow!

This is the first part in a five-part blog series. Tune in next week for our next strategy for enhancing flow in your academic writing: Using Topic Sentences.

Lydia Lunning is a Dissertation Editor and the Writing Center's Coordinator of Capstone Services. She earned degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Minnesota, and served on the editorial staff of Cricket Magazine Group.

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