Essay Hints: Making smooth Transitions between Essay Parts

More art than science, smooth transitions between essay parts are often a skill best acquired through practice.

That does not mean, however, that you should give up on ever being good at them unless you write thousands of words a day and want to win a Pulitzer prize someday. In fact, they’re quite easy, once you understand what you’re doing.

In a business environment, when people want to achieve a certain result by a certain date, they often work backwards. If 30 days from now, you want to double productivity, instead of trying to guess what needs to be done today to make that happen, it’s best to figure out what day 29 looks like first. Then work your way backwards. A similar way of thinking can help you understand transitions between essay parts.

What you’ve probably done in the past is to think of each paragraph as separate. This works well for outlining purposes, and you should be all means continue to do that. However, when it comes to transitional sentences, this is the equivalent of trying to guess what will bring a desired result 30 days hence.

Instead, think about things backwards. Instead of your paragraphs each being separate entities (and never the twain shall cross), think of your essay like a speech. People don’t hear paragraph breaks—they sound to must of us just like sentences. So, if your essay was a speech, how would you tie together the different parts?

What you end up with when you think this way is an essay that is, for all intents and purposes, one giant paragraph. If this giant paragraph flows, then, when you go back and add the divisions, your transitions will be written for you.

This is a bird’s-eye view of the problem, but what it means in practical application is that your essay is one cohesive whole. Each point leads to the next point logically. Thinking of your essay as one giant entity, rather than as a series of paragraphs, will help the transitions to happen naturally. And natural transitions are always the best kind.

Don’t overthink your transitions. They don’t have to be little gems of genius, just a gentle (and very slight) changing of the subject. Thinking about them as a natural part of your one long essay will make it far easier to create them.

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