Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Watch Those Transitions (Part 5 of 9)

Shifting smoothly means you do nothing to make readers lose their concentration. When I'm reading, many times I've had to ask, "Huh?" That means the author failed me.

So I'll give you several hints on how to change from one thought to another. (So is a transition because I connected the two thoughts.)

1. Repeat the main idea or final word from the preceding paragraph as the opening sentence of the next. (This is what I've demonstrated so far.)

2. Repeat a key word from the preceding paragraph in your first sentence. (In Part 4, I repeated weakness.)

3. Build on connecting words so that readers are not aware that you're moving from one thought to another.

4. Use a phrase that connects the two ideas.

5. Inform your readers you are moving to a new subject. You could start your new paragraph with even so, despite that, or by contrast. Such terms become what I call invisible words because people are hardly aware of their presence. But without their presence, readers blink.

6. Set up divisions by breaking the article down into sections. As I've written in a previous blog entry, you can do that with a transition mark. Or you can give subtitles (which I usually put in bold), or number them as I've done by numbering seven points. Bullets work the same way.

7. Use the echo method. Here's an example. If James didn't appreciate her cooking, Hiram would. Hiram did.

If you can't find a fitting transition, go over your material again. Perhaps it's a problem with the work order. You might remove the material and make it a sidebar. Perhaps save the material for another article or chapter.

Because transitions are important for good reading, 
I make them important in my writing.

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