Importance of Effective Transistions
Without transitions, your readers feel like they are in a car taking many wild turns, slamming on the breaks, and changing directions. In essence, reading an essay, article, or book without transitions leaves one with mental whiplash.
To avoid this whiplash, you need transitions, but not just any old transition. You need effective ones. When writing an essay, students like to insert transitional words like “first,” “next,” “also” etc. and be done. Sure that worked when you were in elementary school, but not anymore. And as an author of a book, you have a variety of subpoints within each chapter, and often you move on to the next without even putting in a transition at all.
How to Write an Effective Transition
These effective transitions require the author to show how their ideas work together and build upon each other. Each subtopic should clearly build into the next. Without a transition, this new subtopic seems like a whole new topic all together. Yes, your subpoints are all, hopefully, about your main topic. However, you need to show your reader how each subtopic connects. “First,” “second,” “next” and similar transitional words do not show a unique, clear connection.
Therefore, the first thing you should do when writing a transition is find a connection. Once you have the connection, mention the old topic and then bring in the new.
By referencing the relevant material from the previous paragraph, readers can see how the two ideas connect and writers can develop important points for their readers.
The formula: Mention the old, bring in the new + connecting statement. Your connection can come anywhere in your transition, but you will want to ensure that the old topic comes before the new topic.
The steps for writing a good transition:
1. Find the connection between the two paragraphs
2. Write the transition using the formula
Examples from This Blog
Before I show you examples from nonfiction books and essays, look back at the first three paragraphs in this blog and see how I wrote effective transitions. Can you spot them?
1st Paragraph Topic= No transition leads to mental whiplash
2nd Paragraph Topic= You must have effective transitions
- Step 1 Find the connection= The second topic helps you avoid the first
- Step 2: Write the transition using the formula
2nd Paragraph Topic: You must have effective transitions
3rd Paragraph Topic: Each subtopic must build upon the next
- Step 1 Find the Connection: The third topic is needed in order to do the second topic
- Step 2 Write the transition using the formula
Examples from Nonfiction Books
You do not want a full-fledged effective transition between every paragraph in your book—that would be annoying— just when you switch to a new idea.
With each suggested transition, I underlined the previous topic, italicized the new topic, and put the connection in bold. You will notice that these transitions are more than one sentence long, and that is ok.
Topic #1: There are people, culprits, in your life that can keep you from dating effectively.
Topic#2: You must determine why you want to date.
Topic #1: The community should care more about food allergies.
Topic #2: The second time my son had an incident.
Examples from Essays
These examples come from essays I wrote in high school and college. Again, I underlined the previous topic, italicized the new topic, and put the connection in bold.
Paper Type: Argumentative essay
Topic: Parents shouldn’t give young teenagers a cell phone
1st Body Paragraph: Teenagers don’t need a cell phone
2nd Body Paragraph: Cell phones negatively affect young teenagers
Paper Type: Informational
Topic: The benefits of college
1st Body Paragraph: Responsibility and work ethic
2nd Body Paragraph: Job Opportunities
Paper Type: Research paper
Topic: The life of James Joyce
1st Body Paragraph: James Joyce’s issues with his Dublin Life
2nd Body Paragraph: His family
Paper Type: Analysis
Topic: Theme in “La Belle Sans Merci”
1st Body Paragraph: The knight’s fantasy of perfection
2nd Body Paragraph: The metaphorical death of the knight
To practice this concept, download this exercise.
Katie Chambers, owner of Beacon Point, is a nonfiction and fiction substantive (developmental) editor and copy editor for independent authors, content writer and editor for business professionals, online teacher, and professional speaker.
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