November 22, 2017

Quotes on transitions

What writers and others say

“Life is a transition.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita, founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
― Isaac Asimov

“It’s impossible … to survive a week of American news without running into the phrase ‘but the dream became a nightmare.’”
— Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Institute senior scholar, in Writing Tools

“Every chapter must end with a cliffhanger. On the spectrum of cliffhangers, the best are those involving physical danger. Next best are perceived threats — a mysterious shadow, a scream, the sight of a gun, the earth rumbling. Last on the list is the moderately acceptable dramatic realization, such as ‘he’s been lying to us all along’ or ‘she’s the real spy.’”
— Franklin W. Dixon, the pen name used by the various authors of The Hardy Boys novels, in “The Writer’s Guide to Hardy Boys Rack Books”

“Transitions are critically important. I want the reader to turn the page without thinking she’s turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.”
— Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum series including Sizzling Sixteen

“Don’t stop them with any bumps in the road. Any spot in your structure that makes readers go ‘huh?’ is an invitation to quit reading.”
— David D. Fryxell, freelance writer, in Writer’s Digest

“Words do not create transition. Ideas do.”
— Peter Jacobi, journalism professor emeritus at Indiana University, in The Magazine Article: How to think it, plan it, write it

“Superfluous transitions harm your prose because they call unnecessary attention to its mechanics. They shout, ‘Look! Now I’m making a transition! Are you all with me?’”
— Nancy Kress, science fiction writer, in Writer’s Digest

“If we encounter thus, therefore, consequently and the like, we know that the next statement should follow logically from whatever has already been presented. If we see nevertheless, still, all the same or the like, we must be prepared for a statement that reverses direction.”
— Bonnie J. F. Meyer, Ph.D., professor of Educational Psychology, Penn State

“The two capital secrets in the art of prose composition are these: first the philosophy of transition and connection; or the art by which one step in an evolution of thought is made to arise out of another: all fluent and effective composition depends on the connections; secondly; the way in which sentences are made to modify each other; for the most powerful effects in written eloquence arise out of this reverberation, as it were, from each other in a rapid succession of sentences.”
— Thomas de Quincy, English author and intellectual, best known for his book Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

“Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.”
― Teresa Tsalaky, author, in The Transition Witness
  • Hook ’Em With a Savvy Structure

    Our old friend the inverted pyramid hasn’t fared well in recent research.

    According to new studies by such think tanks as The Readership Institute and The Poynter Institute, inverted pyramids: 1) Reduce readership and understanding; 2) Fail to make readers care about the information; and 3) Don’t draw readers across the jump. In short, researchers say, inverted pyramids “do not work well with readers.”

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    • Three elements of a great lead — and five leads to avoid.
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