A little bleary after being nudged awake by ideas and questions at 4 a.m. Let’s see whether we can make a little sense here….

Words flow. Ideas grow. From the small stream of an image, to the larger river of a chapter, into the sea of ideas, they move. They must.

The images must find a shape and direction. They must point to the end—whether of the image or the chapter or the story entire. One rarely starts a chapter without knowing where it’s going. Wonderful rogue ideas may shout for attention along the way, but one begins with an end in sight.

Another way to look at it. The finished [insert element here: idea, chapter, plot arc, whole book] is a wall. A nice wall. One must know what the wall will look like before one begins to build it: how many bricks are needed, what will make it pleasing to the eye, what structure will let it stand strongest by itself, what will let it be it the best wall it can be. That doesn’t happen without a plan.

How one presents an idea or an image. How one idea stages and propels the next. How the ideas segue from one to the next with logic, order and grace. How each early section/chapter/story suggests where the section/chapter/story will and must end. Flow is how one gives us impetus to an inescapable conclusion—or find the power to leap over the end-of-chapter barrier.

The bricks in the beautiful wall. The stream to river to sea. The perfect pace of a downhil slope. The puzzle pieces that create a picture. Flow.

Without flow, the writer ends up with a jumble of thought—pleasing, perhaps, but a jumble. Go with the flow (you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?) and you have a story that moves your reader to exactly where you want them to be.