#AskDrEditor: Strategic Paragraph Structuring


My editing advice column, Ask Dr. Editor, is now available through UniversityAffairs.ca. The third Ask Dr. Editor question comes from a literature scholar who wants to ensure their voice isn’t overpowered by the quotations they include in their manuscript.

Have a question you want me to answer? Contact me or ask me on Twitter at @lertitia.

Making paragraphs flow

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 3.41.54 PMWe all know that good paragraphs cohere around a single topic and are book-ended by strong, analytical take-away sentences. But how can a disjointed, staccato-sounding paragraph be made to have flow?

Flow is an elusive quality — it’s the sense that sentences move logically and seamlessly without repetition or heavy-handed transitioning. Sometimes this flow comes from the structure of the paragraph itself, which may follow an order such as

  • general to particular (big to small),
  • particular to general (small to big),
  • question to answer, or
  • effect to cause.*

But when the paragraph as a whole doesn’t have an overarching shape, how can a writer make their ideas flow logically? If you’ve ever been told that your writing is “choppy” or “fragmented,” here’s your fix:

Continue reading “Making paragraphs flow”

Structuring academic papers

Patrick Dunleavy of Writing for Research (@Write4Research) breaks down all well-structured academic journal articles into two types, with three sub-types:

  • Conventional papers
  • Designed papers
    • The focus-down model
    • The opening out model
    • The compromise model

Continue reading “Structuring academic papers”