Writers traditionally get stuck in a couple places in their writing: in the beginning when they are trying to discover or develop their lead (lede), in the end when they are searching for just the right conclusion and at transition points throughout the article when they are tasked with introducing a new idea.
A good transition is like a listening to a great band or DJ. The music just flows from one song to another and all you notice is how good the music sounds. Bad transitions can feel like walking into a pole in the middle of a sidewalk. Jarred, the reader looks up and asks, “Where in the world did that come from?” as they stagger through the next set of ideas.
Transitions can be tricky and at times you need to look over the entire article to see where information fits and if you can rearrange information in a way that creates a better flow and easier transition. Ask yourself, “Where does the story/article naturally progress? What would a reader ask next?” Taking a moment to look at it from a reader’s perspective could be enough to illuminate the article’s pathway and make writing transitions easier.
One can choose to make transitions by using headers and bullet points. Some ideas will not flow naturally from one to the other and headers and bullet points are clear indicators that the article is going to move in another direction – a road map so to speak. Here is an article on using bullet points properly: “Bullets Make the Point.”
Quotes are another option for transitions. A good quote can be just what an article needs to introduce a new opinion, subject or direction. Remember, you don’t want to throw just any old quote in an article. The quote has to contribute to the article, give it a boost, a human voice, etc. “Say What?” A Quick Guide to Using Quotes” is a good place to explore how to pick and use quotes.
Got any transition tips? Have any questions? Write it below, I’d like to hear from you!
A good quote is my first choice when I’m stuck on a transition. 🙂
Another meaty subject, Terreece. The music analogy is a good one, since transitions are bridges (the music term for a transition) between concepts. In music, a bridge is used to span one tempo with another, while in writing. a transition helps the reader shift thoughts. There are several ways to transition writing. A few of my favorites are the cliff-hanger (example: “What are some typical ways to transition an article?”), introduction (example: “one writer with the best transitions is joe smith, an award-winning sci-fi author.”), quotes, as previously mentioned; and juxtopositions (example: “in a down economy, one of the best ways to earn cash is to spend lots and lots of money.”
Writing, like any art, takes practice and a well-crafted transition can make a story hum.
Terreece Clarke says
Thanks Ed, thanks for the additional options. You can never have too many in the barrel.