Student writers constantly express concerns about the flow of their papers. “Does this flow well?” or “I’m worried that my paper doesn’t flow” are common echoes. However, the concept of “flow” is a very general one for such a complex process. “Flow,” in essence, is how a paper undulates naturally, what interests the audience and leads them to continue reading. Creating flow can be difficult when trying to manufacture it, because flow is such a general term. Here is a potential conversation between a student and a tutor, as the tutor tries to specify the student’s concerns about “flow.”

(After the student has read the paper aloud)

Writer: I’m worried that my paper doesn’t flow.

Tutor: Well, that’s a pretty general concern. Let’s break that down. After you read your paper, how did you feel it read?

Writer: Well…I don’t think that my paragraphs connected well with each other.

Tutor: How so?

Writer: I just don’t think that they make sense in the way they’re placed.

Tutor: Okay, let’s try reverse outlining. That way, we can see if maybe you want to rearrange your paragraphs in order to have the paper read more smoothly.

As the tutor talks to the writer, he or she has eventually prompted the writer to specify his or her concerns more clearly. Then, the tutor can work on these more specific concerns with the writer in a more efficient matter, rather than trying to tackle the large, general “flow” of the paper. Eventually, the paper will flow beautifully, just like the waterfall above!