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How to write a good essay: Best Practices for Transitioning in an Essay

This series of articles on the essay writing process has been aimed to teach you how to write a good essay. So far, you have learned how to write a kickass introduction, a good thesis statement and informative body paragraphs. However, for most students, the trick comes at transitioning between paragraphs and between sentences.

This article will explain the correct way of transitioning in your essay to give it an organic feel.

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Transitioning in Your Essay

In any essay, there are a number of transitions that you have to make. The first transition is the one between sentences. How do you move between sentences in a way that the reader will feel the link? The other transition is between the introductory paragraph and the first body paragraph. So you have written the thesis statement, how do you move between this statement and the first body paragraph? The final transition is between the body paragraphs. How do you start a new main point after completing the description of the first? When learning how to write a good essay, it is important to understand how to do these transitions.

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To explain these transitions, I will use the following paragraph:

“There are three main fantasy trilogies have made their mark in today’s works of literature. One of the most notable fantasy works today. This story revolves around a young boy, Harry, and walks through the adventures he experiences after joining the Hogwarts School of Magic. He represents good in a world filled with a lot of evil. Similarly, we see the exploration of the theme of good versus evil in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Sauron represents evil, and the hobbits attempt to trump him by destroying the ring that will give him ultimate power. Finally, A Song of Ice and Fire also attempts to depict good and evil, although the lines between the two are at times blurred. In the first two books, you clearly see that in the end, the good people triumph over evil. However, with ASOIF, we are still holding our breaths. Will the white walkers win over the people in the south of the wall or will the kingdoms of Westeros hold them off?”

Transitioning Between Sentences

Under normal circumstances, the transition between two sentences includes a joining word. There are different types conjunctions that can be used, the choice of which depends on the relationship between the two sentences. Some conjunctions show similarity, while others depict the differences between the two sentences. Other conjunctions add information while others indicate the effect of the first sentence.

In the paragraph above, the conjunctions used are “Similarly,” “Finally,” and “However.” The first conjunction shows the similarity between Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. The second one indicates the ending of a sequence while the third indicates contrast.

When learning how to write a good essay, it is important to master the use of conjunctions to use between sentences as it gives your paragraphs a flow. However, conjunctions should not be randomly used where they don’t apply, as in some situations they are not necessary.

Transition Between the Paragraphs

In the second article in this series on how to write a good essay, we explained how to write a thesis statement. This statement is found at the end of the first paragraph and gives the basis on which the essay will be written.

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The transition to the first body paragraph is done in its topic sentence. This topic sentence should look back on the thesis statement and forward to your first main idea in order for the reader to understand the connection between the two.

To give an example:

Thesis statement: Public transportation can solve some of our cities’ most persistent and pressing problems.

Transition/topic sentence: The first main issue that public transportation will solve is traffic congestion.

The connection in the sentence above has been established where it first mentions what is going to be stated is an issue. The thesis statements allude to problems that have been solved using public transportation. Secondly, the sentence delves into the first problem which is traffic congestion.

The transition between paragraphs is done in a similar way. Rather than make the connection in the last statement of the first paragraph, you are advised to make it in the topic sentence of the next.

Using the example above on fantasy trilogies, the paragraph after could begin like this:

“Away from the theme of good and evil, we see the aspect of power playing a major role in these books.”

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In the sentence above, you will have alluded to the discussion in the previous paragraph, which is the theme of good and evil. Moreover, you will have introduced a new topic to discuss in the paragraph, which is the aspect of power.

Implied Transitions

As briefly stated above, not all transitions will be punctuated by the use of conjunctions. In other instances, the transition between two sentences or paragraphs will be seen in the flow of logic.

The following is an excerpt from one or Ernest Hemmingway’s stories, Mr. and Mrs. Elliot:

 

“….This set his heart to pounding and he hurried back to his own room but Cornelia was asleep. He did not like to wake her and soon everything was quite all right and he slept peacefully.

The next day they called on his mother and the next day they sailed for Europe. It was possible to try to have a baby but Cornelia….”

 

This excerpt comprises the end of one paragraph and the beginning of another. Here, Hemmingway did not mention what was happening in the paragraph below as shown in the example above. He simply transitioned in a logical and understandable manner. The first paragraph ends with him mentioning that the character went to bed and the one after talks about the next day.

When learning how to write a good essay, it is important to understand when to allude the connection between paragraphs using logic.

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