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Zip, Zip Paragraph Transitions

by Sally Jennings

One of the most challenging tasks in writing is making a smooth transition from the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next. What is it that makes the brain go zip, zip, rather than clunk, clunk?

Clunk, clunk is necessary when sentence structure or important content words change.  The brain has to begin all over again to process information.  When the structure is similar from sentence to sentence, or content words or phrases are repeated, the brain does less work. The transition from one sentence to the next is perceived to be "smoother," zip, zip.

So, one strategy for zip, zip paragraph transitions is to minimize processing by repeating a word or phrase from the last sentence of one paragraph in the beginning sentence of the next paragraph:

Example 1

End Para 1     "...Thus, issues...extracted concessions at the national level which gave birth to
                         the province of Manitoba, a birth it appears, that was premature.
Begin Para 2             The birth of British Columbia, by contrast, was nearly overdue...."

Example 2

End Para 1     "...Popularity, however, in no way presupposes accuracy, and this interpretation
                         of Riel is seriously flawed, really more of a myth.
Begin Para 2             Myths, however flawed as factual accounts, linger long after other interpretations
                         have passed on, especially if they are coherently formed...."

Example 3

End Para 1     "...the same principles which formed the co-operatives, the principles of economic
                        protest, and rejection of political parties, combined with the co-operative power of a class.
Begin Para 2                The farmers were not the only class which sought power through co-operation,
                        and economic change through organized action..."

Another zip, zip strategy is to use a metaphor to tie two paragraphs together. This may be used in short stories as well as essays.

Example 4

End Para 1     "...The issues swirling around national origin which surfaced in student banter were
                        firmly anchored in deep undercurrents of prejudice flowing within the tiny community.
Begin Para 2                  It was verbal debris floating on this vile current which caught Sally crosswise,
                        pulling her down...."

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