Some of you are struggling a bit with transitions so let’s work a little on this subject.
Transition words, sentences, or even paragraphs, carry the reader’s thoughts from one scene to another, or from one topic to another. It’s the glue that holds your work together – a bridge that goes from one place to another. If the bridge is too short or not properly constructed, it can be a jarring experience.
The trick is to shift gears smoothly. By using part of the topic you are leaving and part of the topic you are approaching, you will have a seamless transition – giving the reader a smooth ride.
Building a Transition Sentence
Transitions can happen in first line of a new paragraph, or the last line of the previous paragraph. If you can find a common denominator, you can make a smooth transition, like this:
Think of transition sentences as a bridge that goes from one place to another. If the bridge is too short or not properly constructed, it can be a jarring experience. [Setting up for the transition.] There are many bridges in writing… (You can just about anywhere with this)
You can also skip decades with one good transition sentence
Sarah clutched her father’s pocket watch and listened to the strained tune. She smiled, thinking of the days when he tried to hypnotize her until she went cross-eyed. Now, thirty years later, fond memories brought a surge of tears.
By using the phrase, “Now, thirty years later….” There is no need to follow your character through opening and closing every door, every waking moment, or taking a long trip to a destination. Many writers overload themselves with these details when all they need is a good transition.
One of the most famous phrases is, “Meanwhile, back in the jungle…” (You can take the imagination anywhere with the right transitions.)
Other good transition words and phrases are…
- accordingly, again, although, as a result, besides, beyond, but
- close, consequently, during, finally, for instance, formerly
- if, in addition to, instead of, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless
- on the contrary, otherwise, specifically, so, subsequently
- then, therefore, to compare, to illustrate, to sum up
For this exercise read a newspaper or magazine and find the transition words for every paragraph. When you can recognize the transition phrases, words, and sentences, then write your own scene, paragraph, or essay. Then read it back to yourself and ask:
- Is it choppy?
- Do your thoughts flow smoothly, or are they disjointed?
- Can you eliminate any extracurricular by adding a transition?
Once you’ve read it, have someone you can trust to be honest read it – and don’t be offended if they offer constructive criticism. It’s how we all learn. Though, anyone too negative, you are probably better off finding someone else.
Remember the secret: a transition sentence must use part of the topic it left and part of the topic it is approaching – like a needle and thread sewing a seamless hem. 🙂