Writing Good Sentences – 5 Tips for Making Your Words Flow

Knowing how to write good sentences and paragraphs will make writing easy, fun, and painless! Here are five tips for making your sentences flow, to ensure your reader doesn’t stop reading your article, book, or essay.

How to Write Good Sentences For the best tips on how to write better, read Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark – one of my favorite writing books. In this article, you’ll find basic skills for good writing; they’ll reduce choppiness and increase your chances of hooking your reader ‘til the very end. You’ll never learn everything you need to know about writing from articles on the internet, but you can pick up a few good tips!

“Nothing is more satisfying than to write a good sentence,” says author Barbara Tuchman. “It is no fun to write lumpishly, dully, in prose the reader must plod through like wet sand. But it is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose that is simple yet full of surprises. This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work, a good ear, and continued practice.”



Tuchman’s sentences flow for a variety of simple reasons, which we’ll explore below.

How to Write Good Sentences and Paragraphs

Balance “edgy and quirky” writing with “simple and lean” writing

Editors, publishers, literary agents, and readers love edgy and quirky writing – but not at the expense of writing flow. As a writer, you need to balance your unique voice and style of writing with clean, simple, effective prose. The easier your writing is to read, the more flow it has…and the longer your reader will stay with you.

Avoid alligators and transoms in your writing

A classic fiction writing mistake is “throwing alligators down the transom”, which means saving your hero at the last minute with a totally unbelievable escape. That can be seen as an ineffective transition, which disrupts flow. Effective transitions are part of good writing skills – and this doesn’t just mean using words such as “however” or “additionally”! Yes, there are certain words that glue your essay or article together, but transitions aren’t just words. Effective transitions are thoughts and ideas that are strategically connected. Good writing skills require more than alligators and transoms, fellow scribes —  they require knowing how to write good sentences and paragraphs that are connected.

Identify the underlying writing problems

5 Tips for Making Your Words Flow

“How to Write Good Sentences “

To make your sentences flow, don’t just identify the choppy bits or correct grammatical errors. Take it a step further, and figure out why your sentences are choppy or you keep dropping alligators down the transom. Once you identify your bad writing habits, your writing skills will improve at an organic level. Writing in flow is about knowing your own weaknesses as a writer.

Write short sentences, write long sentences

Reread Tuchman’s writing tip above. Her first three sentences are long and stylish…and her last two sentences are short and staccato. Varying sentence length is not only a classic tip for making sentences and paragraphs flow, it’s a good writing skill. Readers get bored when all sentences are the same length! Shake it up a little, fellow scribes, and find a natural balance for irregular sentence lengths.

Learn to edit and revise for content, and separately for structure

Writing good sentences and paragraphs involves editing and revising with different hats on: content (information), and mechanics (sentence flow, literary techniques, grammar, etc). These are very different aspects of good writing, and few writers can edit for both at the same time! For more tips on writing good sentences and paragraphs, read How to Edit, Revise, Rewrite Your Writing.

For more tips on how to write good sentences and paragraphs, read 5 Secrets of Good Writing – Examples of Sensory Details.

Are these tips for writing good sentences helpful? I welcome your thoughts below…

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen on twitterLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on pinterestLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on linkedinLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on googleLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on facebook
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Shalom! I can't give you advice, but please feel free to share your thoughts below. I'm a writer in Vancouver; my degrees are in Psychology, Education, and Social Work. I live with my husband, two dogs, and cat. We can't have children, and we trust in God's love, grace, and wisdom. Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28.

You may also like...

15 Responses

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on how to make your sentences flow! Good writing skills are like pancakes. Don’t ask me how, I just know they are :-)

  2. Virgil Contos says:

    These are useful tips. I would also add that clearly knowing the definitions of the words you want to use is paramount as well. Sometimes I would get slick with my creative writing professor and lazily slip in a word that didn’t fit in with the sentence. Needless to say, he was not having it.

  3. Peter D. Mallett says:

    Hi Laurie, I like your site. It is easy on the eyes, and the writing makes me want to read all the way through. I have read three articles. You make good points here. Writing does have an ebb and flow. Good writing means good rythm, and that is good reading. I’ve been writing for quite a while, but just started blogging in September, also about writing. I bookmarked your site, and will come back.
    Thank you,
    Peter

  4. Lisa says:

    Your post was very helpful! The majority of my strategic communication professors stress all of the points made. Two of the most important aspects that I believe are essential are keeping it simple and to read it out loud. The writing aspect that I struggle the most with is editing my own work, by reading it out loud helps me make sure the words flow. It also helps me find mistakes or words that I perhaps forgot to include. These points are essential for everyone in the communications field to understand.

  5. uppal says:

    Hello Laurie,
    Thanks for the helpful tips. we need such reminders all the time. Happily I find them in your company whenever I get derailed. Your pages always enthuse and elevate. Thanks once again!

  6. Laurie says:

    Thanks for your comments! The more you write, the better your words and sentences will flow. The secret to good writing – or being successful at anything!! – is doing it every day.

  7. bebe says:

    I wanna be a good writer too..i love to create poems and quotes,but i just kept it only on my fb…i wanna learn more and practice so I can share it to to others..thanks for the info..gonna start it now to improve my skills..

  8. Vishal says:

    hey laurie..
    this is a wise post…really helpful as i wanted to improve my writing skills… many times just good vocabulary isn’t enough… your writing pattern must be concise and easy to understand…

  9. Hello Howard,

    Your English is pretty good! You just need a little practice :-)

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Find the Right Words and Improve Your English Skills

    The best way to write good sentences and paragraphs is to practice, practice, PRACTICE. It takes hours to excel at anything — even for writers whose first language is English.

    I hope the tips in the article help, and welcome your thoughts here or there.

    All good things,
    Laurie

  10. Howard C. says:

    your advices are quite helpful… thank you..
    im an asain student studying in a foreign country.
    ive found out this year that my favorite subject is english, and i want to improve it;but some of my english words’ pronunciation are still wrong,i dont know how to use words that give people flowless ideas ,and sometimes i dont even know what is the adj. or adv. that i must add in a sentence to make it better.can u give me some advice?

  11. Thanks for your comments; I appreciate your appreciation :-)

    Another tip for writing good sentences and paragraphs is to make sure your transitions are smooth and clear to the reader (not just to you as the writer!).

  12. RB says:

    Clear, concise tips. Appreciated :)

  13. Lilly R. says:

    I just want to say – thank you for this! Very helpful article.

  1. April 6, 2010

    […] jump ship, and there’s nothing more confusing than ideas that aren’t clearly explained. To make your writing flow, eliminate leaps of logic or black holes. (This is why putting your writing aside for a few weeks […]

  2. April 22, 2010

    […] 1. Stories have a natural rhythm. Tell a story and you’ll automatically start with the most interesting material. At the same time, you’ll give details exactly where they belong and you’ll end by reinforcing the key point you want to make. This kind of structure gives you a big, paint-by-numbers approach to your writing. It makes writing easier and more enjoyable. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *