Disconnected Writing Kills: Great Transition Words Just Might Be the Cure

There is nothing worse than disconnected, disjointed writing. Your target audience completely gets lost (and not in translation). Your message is missed. And quite simply, no one understands what you’re trying to say.

But never fear…this, too, can be cured with great transition words. No magic wand needed…just you and your fabulous writing skills that will connect sentences and paragraphs into a unified body of writing.

Transition words help both the reader and the writer move from one idea to another idea in one fluid movement. Seamlessly. Painlessly. And with utter understanding.

Admittedly, transitions can be tricky if you aren’t accustomed to using them properly. Their placement can be awkward, making your writing even more cumbersome. And, I’m sorry to say, but no, you can’t just rely on your old stand-by words of  “but,” “however,” and “in addition.” You’ll need a handy list to pull from…and look what I just happen to have for you:

  • accordingly
  • admittedly
  • afterward
  • alternatively
  • altogether
  • as a result
  • at the same time
  • at this point
  • by comparison
  • certainly
  • clearly
  • concurrently
  • consequently
  • considering this
  • conversely
  • evidently
  • further
  • furthermore
  • given these points
  • in any case
  • incidentally
  • indeed
  • meanwhile
  • moreover
  • nevertheless
  • notably
  • obviously
  • on the contrary
  • otherwise
  • overall
  • previously
  • surprisingly
  • therefore
  • whereas
  • yet

Clearly, not every word on this list will work for your style of writing, nor is this list exhaustive. Moreover, pick and choose your transition words carefully to reflect your style of writing. And, yes, “clearly” and “moreover” were my choices for transition words to end this blog. I think they both work for my style of writing, don’t you?

Want to Write? Get a Plan

Almost all successful writing begins with a response to an idea, experience, problem, or question. It’s hardly ever random. And your response needs some kind of process, even if it’s a rather loose one, which is what I prefer, otherwise I get so caught up in the process of writing I never actually get pen to paper.

So as a jumping off point, any writing response requires the following process in order to get from A to Z successfully:

  • defining a purpose
  • knowing your audience
  • planning
  • drafting
  • revising
  • editing
  • revising
  • revising some more
  • proofing

You can craft your process based off of this one. It may take some trial and error to see what actually works for you; you’ll find it. And once you do, your writing will flow so much more smoothly for you. What it will never do, however, is go from idea to finished product without a number of steps in between. But wouldn’t that be nice for a change?

Writing IS Hard

Of course it is. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and more importantly, do it well. But, they don’t. Most people hate writing, and most can barely put two sentences, let alone two words, together in a way that makes any sense whatsoever. And that’s where we come in. Writers. And editors. We do the work that others either don’t want to do, or can’t do.

Writers may be crazy, but trust me, there is a clear-cut reason for this. Bear with me. This will all make sense. While we all know that most people would rather gnaw off their own arm than write a single line of copy, these are the very same people who will tear apart and ruthlessly criticize the work that writers do. The work that they hire us to do for them. And while I do believe in the merits of constructive criticism, I take issue with the random rants of those who have no background or experience in editing the English language.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve been asked to make something that is grammatically correct incorrect because the “reviewer” has no editorial background whatsoever, and simply believes the copy is wrong. I am then forced to justify it. Pull out a style manual. Site a grammar rule. Provide an example. Explain why the copy is correct. I mean, seriously, I’m a writer. I’ve been writing for more than 20 years. What I am not is an English teacher. But at times, I feel I am more of the latter than the former.

I shouldn’t complain though. I know it’s an occupational hazard given the field I’m currently in. I do not work in the world of publishing anymore, surrounded by professional writers, editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. It’s a different reality now and I either have to just lower my expectations or accept my role as writer and teacher.

Because … Writing. Is. Hard.

Eminem: What His Writing Can Teach You About Yours

That’s write, I said it. Eminem can teach you a lot about writing simply by listening to the tight lyrics he writes. It can be said that Eminem is a complicated artist, one who provokes pages of arguments – positive and negative – and his overall impact on our culture is for better or worse. But as a writer, few can touch what he’s managed to accomplish.

So pay attention: here’s what you can learn.

Read and Write Everything

Eminem started writing as a child, sanding the rough edges of his craft, knowing without doubt that the only thing that would get him out of the trailer park and into a better life was disciplined effort and endless practice.

He familiarized himself with the greats until storytelling was as natural to him as breathing is to everyone else. He may have started by imitating the pioneers, but he soon blended their legacy into his own style creating something that was like nothing else.

Edit Ruthlessly

Eminem’s best tracks harbor some of the tightest writing ever written. One has to wonder just how long he spends on each song, considering how securely each syllable is cemented in place.

Not only can he craft a compelling argument in prose, he can also rhyme words that shouldn’t rhyme, and pack more poetry into a verse than should be technically possible. Only fastidious editing can pull the written word so taut.

Write What you Know

One of the things that makes Eminem so powerful, so polarizing, is that his message is delivered without any filter whatsoever. Listening to his music is like tuning into a live therapy session. That’s why it’s easy to believe that he is writing directly from his heart and his unique set of experiences.

Start Strong, Finish Stronger

The best of Eminem’s songs achieve something rare in commercially produced music – they realize a powerful climax prior to their conclusion. Many of his songs are written as arguments, and it’s usually in his third verse when he drives his point home, often with a lyrical sledgehammer.

Be Concise and Use Powerful Sentences

Eminem pares his arguments down to the bone. His intuitive sense of flow allows him to seamlessly drift from the measured cadence of ordinary speech to an unrivaled intensity of verse, but it is always the power of his writing that enables him to drive his point home with such precision.

My advice: go out and listen to what he has to say. You will definitely learn something about the craft of writing.

Sharing Is Always Good, Right?

So I thought I’d share an excerpt from the book I just finished. I know, not exactly the type of content you might be looking for , but then again, we do learn from the writing of others.

Ambition

Ambition — a strong desire for achievement, fame, or power

What It Is

Ambition has always been that which drives individuals forward. It’s what motivates us as a society to achieve more than our ancestors. The relentless pursuit of excellence, wealth, fame, power, whatever your desire may be, is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, right? However, when ambition takes total control of your life, to the point that you no longer care who you step on to get what you want, you may need to stop and ask yourself, “Have I crossed the line?” Yeah, I think the chances are pretty good that you have.

Be ambitious. Chase after your dreams and see them through. Be strong and persevere when others tell you that what you want is nothing more than a pipe dream. No one ever achieved great success, saw dreams come true, by giving up. But be careful in your pursuits; like everything else in life, carrying your ambition forward is a balancing act between achievement at all cost and giving in, giving up. To that end, neither extreme will ever serve you well.

Now go out and be ambitious; chase your dreams and make them come true.

Writing at the Speed of Light

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Writing at the speed of light isn’t as hard if you have your technique down cold. Of course, you have to have a grip on the technique, and that’s what trips up most writers in the first place, right?

We have the vision. We’re swimming in creativity. But we’re drowning in our own need for perfection. Word of advice: Let it go. No matter what words you choose, regardless of the voice and tone you select, no matter how carefully you craft the style, you will never achieve perfection. So get over it. If you don’t, you will never get the words on the page written and the work out the door.

The speed of light technique: Focus, write, revise. At some point you have to decide that your work is actually finished and move on.

Editing on the Fly

It never fails. Because I write, everyone assumes I am a walking encyclopedia of grammar know-how. A spelling bee know-it-all. All day long it’s “allyah, how do you spell this” and “allyah, how do you spell that.” “allyah, should I use a colon here, or would an em-dash be better?” Okay, that’s not actually what they say: 1) I write under a pen name, and 2) they certainly know how to spell “this” and “that.” For God sake, I hope so.

The point is, I don’t have a computer chip in my head. I’m not a flowing font of information. Sometimes, my brain gets tired. There’s a lot of useless information that I carry up there, and I don’t have time to edit on the fly, sifting through all that garbage to find the one thing that someone needs on the spot when there’s an easier solution: look it up. And yes, it sucks because it takes time and effort, but what’s the alternative? Crappy copy? I don’t think so.

So use your resources, online or in print, and rely on your own brain instead of running to your “allyah equivalent.” Trust me, she, or he, will thank you some day.