What is flow?

[I’ve just discovered a whole stack of posts under “Drafts” … no idea when I wrote this one. It was a while back.]

As a writing instructor, I’ve been chronically frustrated by the fact that composition textbooks use words no one has ever defined.

Flow, for instance.

What is it?

Or paragraph.

What is a paragraph apart from a list of sentences separated by white space from other lists of sentences inside a longer text?

The answer is that a paragraph has a topic (topic?) and the sentences have flow.

But what is flow?

I think there’s some interesting work on flow and paragraphing etc. from the Prague School of linguistics, and probably also from the field of inquiry called stylistics. But people who write composition textbooks haven’t read it. At least, not so far as I can see.

I managed to make acquaintance with the Prague School while teaching and writing, but my books on stylistics are still waiting.

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