How to Write Good Transition Sentences

What are Transition Sentences?

Transition sentences carry the reader’s thoughts from one scene to another, or from one topic to another. The trick is to shift gears smoothly by using both the past and future topic close together. By the time you read this article, you’ll have a good understanding of the art.

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.

Just remember that ‘warty characters’ are memorable because ‘warts’ assist the reader in identifying characters.

Huh? Are you wondering what happened to the discussion on transition sentences? Now you know what that “jarred” feeling is like, as there was no transition sentence. Warts (character flaws) don’t relate to transition sentences at all, but we can make them relate by connecting the two topics.

How to Build a Transition Sentence

Transitions usually root in the first line of a new paragraph, but on occasion, you’ll find them in the last line. If you can find a common denominator, you can make a smooth transition, like this: (repeat)

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.

For instance, ‘warty characters’ (characters that have physical, emotional, or psychological flaws), act as a bridge to help the reader separate characters. Imagery is another bridge, as it translates to the five senses. Likewise, transition sentences are a bridge that escort the reader from a previous topic or scene to a new one.

See? You can connect virtually anything if you find a common denominator. Reread the last two paragraphs and find the three transitions, which may be a single word, a phrase, or one or more sentences. (Find answers at the bottom.) Transition sentences are a powerful way to redirect your reader’s mind!

You can skip decades with one good transition sentence:

Sarah clutched her father’s pocket watch to her buxom 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.

The transition phrase was, “Now, thirty years later…. “ There is no need to follow your character through opening and closing every door, eating a full meal, or taking a long trip to a destination. Cut the trivia and keep the meat by inserting a transition sentence. One of the most famous is, “Meanwhile, back in the jungle… “

Other good transition words and phrases are: besides, in addition to, instead of, specifically, to sum up, although, beyond, close, for instance, again, moreover, accordingly, as a result, during, to illustrate, finally, on the contrary, to compare, consequently, subsequently, if, then, meanwhile, but, nevertheless, therefore, otherwise, so, formerly.

Your assignment: read a newspaper or magazine and find the transition words for every paragraph. When you can recognize transition phrases, words, and sentences, you’ll be able to use them effectively in your own writing. Remember the secret: a transition sentence must use part of the topic it left and part of the topic it is approaching.

Transitions:
1. Think of
2. For instance
3. Likewise

For more great writing tips, sign up for The Writer’s Choice Newsletter at http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com (a 501c3 nonprofit charity that sponsors cancer patients in writing courses).

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91 thoughts on “How to Write Good Transition Sentences

  1. Pingback: Monday Money$: How to Build a Transition Sentence! « Writing Success Program at UCLA

  2. This post helps me a lot! Especially at this point in time that I badly need information and knowledge in doing good transitions for a short story

    • I used to write a whole volume on a man eating supper and getting him out the door. I didn’t realize how easy it is to skip hours, days, weeks, months, or even years with one sentence. Transition sentences do the work for you. Thanks for dropping by. Come back often. Deb

  3. Great tips! I used to write a lot of technically great articles when I used to work but being a stay-at-home mom took its toll on my writing and I feel like I’m not as good a writer anymore.

    • Hi Isis, Thanks for stopping by. Yes, writing does take practice, but it’s something you’ll never forget. Write 15 min. every day for a week and before the week is out, you won’t be able to wait for that time to roll around! Happy day. Deb

  4. Great article! It’s so important to be able to write well as bloggers. Transitioning was never my strong point! I usually just start a new paragraph. :)

    • Hi Mona – Unless your new paragraph is very closely associated with the one before, you’ll have to transition into the new thought. The question is, are you doing that? If not, your reader feels disjointed and jarred. Transitioning is really easy if you think of the qualifications. Bring both subjects together from the last paragraph and the new one. Voila! Do it three or four times and it will be second nature. Thanks for stopping in. Deb

  5. I just like it that I’m learning so many things from people lately. I couldn’t have imagined getting this information elsewhere. Thanks for sharing.

  6. This is one area of writing that I have never learned about. I think it is strange that I do not remember one lesson on this topic. Thank you for teaching this and I look forward to my attempts at using transitions. :)

    • Now that you mention it, I never had a lesson on it either. Took me ages to figure out how to get a child to school without going through all the process of dressing, walking from room to room, getting on the bus, getting, off, etc. Good transitions can change from a dungeon to worshiping in church, from a loose shoestring to an ant hill, etc. Thanks for stopping in. Come back. Deb

  7. I’m a middle school English teacher, and I can vouch that MOST kids are NOT taught the art of good transitions. If they are taught transitions AT ALL they go “firstly, secondly, thirdly” which drives me NUTTY! When I teach, I give kids a big menu of QUALITY transition words and coach them in how to use them with VARIETY! Hopefully one day they will use them with SKILL too! :)

    • Hi Julie, My daughter used to be a teacher. Since I’m at her house right now, I read your comment to her and we all had a good laugh over it. SO TRUE. lol Feel free to use this lesson in your class if you wish. Happy to help. Come back often. Deb

    • Hey Deanna, Thanks for stopping in. My site is an online writing school (a 501c3 non profit charity) that sponsors cancer patients in writing courses. This year we’re developing courses for the blind and next year we’ll develop a picture book/writing program for children that have cancer, ages 5-14. If you have the desire to work with our volunteer group, we need writers, bloggers, researchers, office help, and etc. Check it out here:
      http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com. Happy day! Deb

    • Hi Julie, Thanks for the reply. Great transition sentences come in handy when you’re letter writing. blogging, story telling, or writing an article. Especially when you have to get a kid from the breakfast table to the school bus and back home, for instance. You can skips hours or a millennium with the right kind of transition. Drop in again some time! Deb

    • Ha! You win an all day lollipop! Good for you. Really, the smooth flow of writing has to do with the transition sentences. They are a major part of flowing techniques. Thanks for visiting. I hope you come back often. Deb

    • Thanks, Melissa! Transitions are a huge part of every story/article. Unless the reader can glide smoothly from one scene/paragraph to another, the jerky effect ruins the content. Come back when you can. Deb

  8. Thanks for the great tips. I find I tend to focus on different aspects of writing and eventually find I’ve neglected other aspects. A never ending cycle of improvement.

    • Know what you mean, Junebug. The trick is to not forget the last thing you learned. If necessary, make notes of all the things to include. Thanks for the comment. Come back soon. Deb

  9. Thanks for the grammar tip because in this computer-age, we often neglect it. We are used to typing shorthand for emails, status updates, and tweets, we often forget real writing. Thanks!

  10. Thanks so much for this article! I teach writing to fourth graders and we use transitions at the beginning of paragraphs and then at the end of the final paragraph. I also do freelance writing but I would love to take a grammar class to help brush up on my writing. I know that there is a lot that I’ve forgotten since college. I think I’ll subscribe and get some tips from you.

    • Hi Nirra, Thanks so much for your comment. I’m delighted to help.> You’re the Mystery Shopping lady! I loved your post. I copied it to my files for further study when I get time. Thank you so much for that. I’ve always wanted to know more about that. Can’t wait to study it.> Re: the grammar class – we have a course called Punctuation Review. It isn’t a grammar course per se, but it covers a zillion things and all the parts of punctuation. It serves as an excellent refresher course and you can find it here: http://creativewritinginstitute.com/registration_step1.php Thanks for dropping by! Feel free to write any time: deborahowen@cwinst.com Deb

  11. When I first starting reading, I thought transition sentences only pertained to novel writing and wouldn’t benefit my blog writing. then when i saw your exercise it made me think again. I’ll be watching for transition sentences in my paper tomorrow.

    • Oh, yes! Every time you make a paragraph, you need a transition sentence. It usually comes pretty naturally, but if you get into a story where you want to skip hours, days, months, or years, you have to know the techniques. I’m glad I gave you something to think about. Return often for new writing tips! Thanks for dropping in. Deb (Our newsletter has writing tips, too. http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com – look at the top of the page to join.)

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