The Renegade Writer

How Fried Eggs Can Help You Write Better Articles, Case Studies, Blog Posts and More

In 1996, my husband and I spent six months living and working in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

I’m not sure if this is the case now, but back then, the regular TV stations ran soft porn late at night.

(Wait, I’m actually going somewhere with this!)

One time we ran across a program that featured a couple making out in the kitchen while the woman was making fried eggs. For every transition between scenes, the cameraperson would cut to the fried eggs on the stove, which were becoming increasingly overcooked.

The couple is feeling each other up. Fried eggs. Now they’re partially unclothed. Fried eggs. Now they’re totally unclothed. Fried eggs. Now they’re — well, you know. Fried eggs.

Soon after we returned to the U.S., I became a freelance writer. I was new to the game and not super confident about my writing skills, so I would print out each article and ask Eric to go over it with a red pen.

It became a running joke that wherever Eric thought I needed to craft a better transition, he’d draw a little fried egg.

And you know what? Frying eggs — er, I mean writing transitions — is a learned skill that you need to master if you want to write articles, case studies, blog posts, or anything else.

Here are my top tips for creating transitions that work.

1. Take advantage of subheds.

My go-to trick (as you can see here) is subheads that break up the text. That way, whenever I have a new topic to address in the article, I just have to think up a clever subhead for it and not worry too much about the previous subject running smoothly into the next one.

2. Use an anchor.

This technique is like an anti-transition, and works well when you have the liberty to write creatively.

When I wrote my first narrative-style profile, of a bridal entrepreneur/mixed martial artist named Laura, a friend of mine who is a genius at this type of writing suggested I use the class I took with Laura as an anchor to help me transition into different parts of the story.

So whenever I wanted to switch topics, I would first insert the next paragraph in the saga of this increasingly difficult MMA class I took as an unathletic 40-year-old. This helped create drama as well.

3. Play with the order.

It will be much easier to write good transitions if you order your article in such a way as to — well, make transitions easy.

You’ll find that some topics naturally lead into other ones, so do yourself a favor and stack those together.

4. Use the right words.

This website has a great list of transitional words. For example, for continuing the line of reasoning, you may want to use consequently, additionally, or furthermore. To change the line of reasoning, try however, on the other hand, but, or nevertheless.

5. Make a connection.

According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (which is a great resource for writers), you don’t want to use transitions that can connect one paragraph to any other paragraph, but transitions that connect a specific paragraph to another specific paragraph. One way to do this is to repeat words, phrasing, or ideas from one paragraph into the beginning of the next one.

Check out some helpful exampleshere.

How about you: Are fried eggs the bane of your existence? If not, what are your tricks for creating transitions that work? Share your insights in the Comments below!

Sep 20, 2012 Advice, Freelance writers, Writers, Writing

7 Responses

  1. It’s funny you mention case studies in your title because I just finished grading a batch of those. As an undergraduate writing instructor, the tips in this post will probably make my life much easier. I always wonder what’s the best way to teach transitions, but this post gives clear and actionable advice. Thanks!

  2. Ronn says:

    Linda, this article on transitions is wonderful, and very important. I can see now that I need to pay better attention to them, and “fried eggs” will remind me from this point forward. Thanks so much for your deep and inspirational insights.

  3. Kate Hall says:

    This is great! Thank you so much. I was just thinking about some lousy transitions I have and wondering how to make them flow. Great timing!

  4. Mike Fischer says:

    Thanks for sharing. In writing, transitions could be smooth or abrupt. Irrespective of the kind of transitions projected, it is always helpful to use transition words,narratives, etc.

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