Writing a great essay is about presenting a thesis or central argument and then using the ensuing paragraphs to discuss evidence or observations that back up your point. Beyond the staples of a thesis and evidence, however, writing good transitions between paragraphs is critical.
Why Do Essays Need Transitions?
Strong transitions help carry the reader along as you build your argument and clarify the connections between points. Writing a good essay means you're clearly and plainly explaining why the evidence you're presenting backs up the claims you made in your introductory paragraphs. Without good transitions, the introduction of new information can seem meandering or pointless. A good transition helps clarify to the reader why you've included the information you have, what makes it relevant and more clearly defines your line of thinking.
How to Write Transitions for Essays
A good transition is a bridge between two ideas. When deployed successfully, transitions can turn seemingly disconnected concepts into a cohesive whole. Transitions can be written as a few sentences between paragraphs or, even better, a set of statements at the end of one paragraph and the beginning of another. Before moving on to your next paragraph, create a bridge statement at the end of your current paragraph that reiterates the salient idea that you want the reader to move forward with. Ideally, you'll also then add a sentence that introduces the topic to come, demonstrating how and why the two paragraphs connect. Then, when you begin your subsequent paragraph, the first sentence can build on the last bridge statement, demonstrating why you have moved from that last topic into the one you're about to begin.
Other Essay Elements to Keep in Mind
While transitions are a critical writing style to master, it's a good idea to keep in mind the other elements that can turn a mediocre essay into something strong and coherent.
Introductory paragraphs are important because they're the first thing your reader will encounter. The introduction is an opportunity for you to give a general overview of the topic you're about to discuss and its relevance and scope. This general survey of the topic area will be further refined in the second paragraph when you lay out your thesis statement. It's here that your readers will find out exactly what you want to say about this specific topic.
The thesis statement is where you lay out the argument or grounds for your essay. It's extremely important that you speak clearly here about what it is that you're trying to say. If your position is muddy or unclear, the rest of the essay will read like a confusing jumble of words. The more clearly you can state your thesis, the more easily readers will be able to understand your supporting points. Without a clear thesis, you have no hope of making your readers understand your point of view.
The conclusion paragraph is where you'll tie up all the loose ends of your argument and make an overarching statement about how the evidence or observations you've described prove your thesis. However, a conclusion should be more than simply reiterating your thesis statement. The reader has hopefully come through the essay with an understanding of your thesis, which you have successfully supported using various pieces of evidence. By the time they arrive at the conclusion, you should be writing under the assumption that they now agree with you. The conclusion offers you the opportunity to demonstrate how the implications of your argument can be brought to bear on the larger topic, for better or for worse, and what that means for the future of your subject area.