Smoothing out the rough: paragraphs that won’t flow
So often, in a long piece of writing, there are paragraphs that refuse to flow. When you read them aloud, you stumble. If you’re busy and stressed, the temptation is to pretend the paragraph is fine. Resist temptation! Go through the paragraph underlining the words (usually nouns, verbs and short phrases) that form the subject of the paragraph, i.e. words that MUST be included. Leave out fillers and connectors. Take the underlined words and either type them out of order on a rough sheet, or print them out, cut them up and shuffle them. Leave your desk for half an hour, or, if you’re up against a deadline, work on a different part of the thesis/essay/report. Return to the shuffled words. Ask yourself ‘what’s the point I’m trying to make with these words?’ Rewrite, adding only enough extra words for the paragraph to make sense. Read it aloud again, and with luck, this little trick will have smoothed out the ruts.