How to Write a Killer Transition

by Kathy Edens May 03, 2017, 0 Comments

How to Write Transitions

How do you move your reader smoothly between ideas in your content or from scene to scene in your novel? With killer transitions that connect and unify your writing as a whole.

What is a Transition?

There are two types of transitions to cover:

  1. Transitions at content level, e.g. connecting paragraphs and highlighting relevant, important points; and
  2. Transitions at manuscript level, e.g. moving between scenes and POV switches.

Transitions in Content

A killer transition can take disparate writing and connect the paragraphs to create a unified whole. Transitions help you show your readers how separate ideas go together to build and support your larger idea. You do this by referencing relevant points from the previous paragraph and beginning one paragraph where another one leaves off.

Let's see the difference a killer transition can make.

Example

Hospitals, healthcare practices, and other organizations dealing with protected health information are regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Non-compliance with HIPAA's administrative, technical, and physical safeguards can result in hefty fines and even jail time.

Revision

Hospitals, healthcare practices, and other organizations dealing with protected health information are regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Consequently, in the event of non-compliance with HIPAA's administrative, technical, and physical safeguards, healthcare providers can face hefty fines and even jail time.

Transitions in a Manuscript

If your manuscript were a movie, a scene transition would be simple: the camera fades to black and then opens up to a new scene. How do you do that with words?

Let's say your main character is at work contemplating meeting someone for dinner that evening on whom she's crushing in a big way. The scene at hand could cover her daydreams about how the evening might progress or her thoughts about what she wants to say to this significant other.

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To get her from work to home where she gets ready for her date and then driving to the restaurant, finding a parking place, locking her car, and her other moves—ad nauseam—would be an utter bore for both you and your reader if nothing exciting happens in between.

Time for a killer transition.

Scene 1 Example

Janie's thoughts kept drifting from the computer screen in front of her to the scene at the restaurant tonight. Maybe he'd sit at her side instead of across from her. He would gently take her hand and whisper his longings.

What if instead he dropped his head and turned his back once he realized she's not who he thought she was?

Transition

You have a couple of options here. You could start a new chapter to make clear that there is a change of scene. Or, you could leave a couple of blank lines or insert "# # #" to denote a change of scene. These are all easily accessible signals to your reader that a new scene is coming up.

More importantly, as you transition from one scene to another, make sure you end the first scene with a hook. Make your reader feel something—anger, surprise, joy—so they'll be sure to turn the page and keep reading.

Then start the new scene by letting your reader know who is in it, especially if you're changing POV characters, where they are, when it is, and get right to the action.

Scene 2 Example

With shaking hands, Janie pulled open the restaurant door and stepped inside. She smoothed her little black dress over her hips, hoping she looked as sexy as she felt, and let her gaze slowly adjust to the dim lighting.

With very few words, your readers know it's later that evening and Janie is at the restaurant to meet her crush. You're dying to read what happens, right? That's because we skipped right to the good stuff, something to keep in mind as you transition between scenes.

Conclusion

Whether you're writing content for your own blog, working for clients, or drafting your own novel, you need to master transitions to keep your readers engaged and moving smoothly through your prose.

Killer transitions heighten readers' anticipation and excitement. And for your content, transitions help readers jump from one thought to the next seamlessly.

What's the best transition you've read lately? Share it in the comments below. Let's see how other writers are handling this important skill.

Did you know that ProWritingAid has a Transition Report? 

It scans your writing and gives you a “transitions score”, which is based on the percentage of sentences that contain a transition. We recommend that you aim for a score of 25% or higher, which means that you use at least one transition word or phrase every four sentences.

Find out more by reading How to Use the Transitions Report.


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About the Author:

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. Check out her book The Novel-Writing Training Plan: 17 Steps to Get Your Ideas in Shape for the Marathon of Writing or contact her at www.kathy-edens.com.

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