300 Days of Better Writing

February 13, 2013

Create transitions to the next paragraph.


The final sentences of a paragraph have two functions. First, they need to provide a conclusion, impact statement, or action statement relevant to the single idea of the paragraph. Second, they need to create a transition to the idea of the next paragraph.

This transition is created by using words and phrases relevant to the next idea or by specifically noting how the current idea relates to the next one. Let’s look at two examples.

NONFICTION EXAMPLE:

End of paragraph one: “Throughout the grades, teachers build this disposition by asking questions that help students find the mathematics in their experiences, and by encouraging students to persist with interesting but challenging problems.”

Beginning of paragraph two:Students who can successfully solve problems are able to apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies.”

[National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000]

The first paragraph discusses teaching strategies, and the second discusses types of problem-solving strategies. The transition is created by the underlined words at the end of the first paragraph, which relates to the idea described in the context of the second paragraph.

FICTION EXAMPLE:

Gloucester:
I hope they will not come upon us now.
King Henry:
We are in God’s hands, brother, not in theirs.
[Shakespeare, Henry V, act 3, scene 6]

Gloucester’s comment discusses actions by the enemy, using the word “they.” This reference to the enemy creates a subtle transition to the beginning of Henry’s speech, which starts with a reference to the enemy: “theirs.”


This is the strategy for day 90 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

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