Those Tiresome Transition Words
Transition words—you know, all those words and phrases like “next,” “in addition,” “moreover,” “thirdly,” “as a result,” “furthermore”—have their place and their uses. But if you’re not engaged in formal business writing or technical writing or dry-as-dust academic writing, then you’re better off using a different device to accomplish the same thing. And that is a short sentence at the end of a paragraph.
Moreover, using a fairly short terminal sentence like this to transition into the next paragraph makes your writing more natural (a little more like speech) and less halting and stilted. In addition, the short terminal sentence is a good way to announce that that bit of business is concluded. Furthermore, it’s a good way to drive home your point. [See how all those transition words just clutter things up?]
Here’s an example from my article “Loud Whispering”:
“The members of the Sanhedrin and the brutish Roman soldiers are all stock, two-dimensional characters who could be straight out of an O’Connor story. They are really very minor players in this cosmic drama. In the same way, the violence is pretty predictable, and there is so much of it that it verges on becoming tiresome. The shouting is just too much and gets a little annoying. You want to get on to what comes next.”
And another one from my article “Anti-Gnostic Advent”:
“Here we are at the tag end of Advent. Many of us have eaten way too much, some of us probably drank a little too much, and almost all of us have had to endure relatives we just can’t stand. That’s a good thing too.”
This can be a very effective tactic, but it must be used judiciously. Overusing the short, terminal transition sentence can be just as tiresome to your reader as too many initial transition words. Use it sparingly and use it well.
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