10 distracting transitions you can avoid

By · Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

If you’re already immersed at an internship or are embarking on a new writing adventure, it seems a good point in time to draw attention to an important part of writing and the story structure: transitions.

Transitions are words that take a reader from paragraph to paragraph,
from topic to topic and from speaker to speaker effortlessly.
The best transitions are subtle.
They amplify words as if a person is speaking into a microphone, not a megaphone.

Some transitions introduce a new idea: “but,” “however,” “although.” They tip off readers that there is an exception or another side of an issue or some type of consequence that is about to be explained.

Other transitions introduce a person, especially when a new speaker follows another speaker in a story. When the quotes of two people appear back to tack, a transition to the second person is necessary. Otherwise, a reader will assume that the first person is still being quoted.

And then there are distracting transitions because they do not add anything to the story. They get in the way. Here are our Top 10:

  1. In addition / In addition to
  2. On the contrary
  3. On the other hand
  4. Nevertheless
  5. Moreover
  6. Besides
  7. Meanwhile
  8. Fast forward to
  9. Considering that
  10. Consequently

How might you self-assess whether a transition works? You can ask yourself the following questions and consider the effectiveness of the transition:

There’s one more thing you can do: Assess how paragraphs are linked. Look for key words or thoughts in the last sentence of a paragraph. Are these followed up in some way — or even repeated — in the first sentence of the next graph? If they are, it’s a good indication that the graphs “fit,” that one logically follows the other.

The best stories don’t have a lot of obvious transitions; they flow smoothly on their own. And you — the writer or the editor — are the one who makes that happen.

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