46 Transitions That Help Your Story Flow

writing tipsOne of the top recommendations experts share with writers is to read. Anywhere you find a list of tips on how to hone your writing skills it will include 1) read your manuscript aloud, 2) show don’t tell, and 3) read.

I have no problem reading, endlessly, about five books a week. I can’t stop. If I don’t read, I get hyper and dissatisfied with whatever I’m doing. Doesn’t matter what, it always goes better with a reading break. As I read, I collect favorite parts where the author quickly and effectively put me in the middle of the action, made me like their character, and/or fell in love with the setting. At first, I just added them to a bullet list, but soon, the list got out of control so I divided it into categories, like this:

descriptor list

To date, I have over 140 pages and 75 categories–most of which I’m sharing with you over the next months on my WordDreams blog (drop by and check out the category, Descriptors). Today, I’ll share transition phrases and sentences. Transitions are critical to superior writing. Readers must get from here to there fluidly, without losing energy or getting lost in minutiae. Without transition words, stories seem jumpy, awkward, and confusing.

A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).

Another note: These resonate with me. They may make no sense to your muse. That’s fine–just skip those!


  1. By the middle of September, he had changed his name three times and was in a new place every night. Today was Room 338.
  2. ten minutes later, top down on the Corvette, Hootie blaring from his car’s speakers, he cleared Candlestick Point and twenty minutes after that was parking in the courthouse lot 25-miles south.
  3. have I done something wrong?
  4. Ten minutes later, Bosch was standing with the remote control in front of the AV equipment…
  5. Well, I believe that about covers the situation.
  6. Ten hours later I was in the coach section.
  7. I was sitting in the front seat of a patrol car talking to a cop named Cataldo. We were cruising along.
  8. I spun my wheels for a couple of days until I finally met with …
  9. Finding Jonathan Parson’s former wife ate up another ninety minutes of his time.
  10. The song was running through his mind twenty-one years later when the bomb went off.
  11. “Good, I’m good!” he shouted. We all looked over to see what he could possibly mean.
  12. It was dark when I got there, and my head was so clear as to be empty. I check in, unpacked, went to the bar and had a sandwich and a couple of beers, went back up to my room and, exhausted from the excitement, went to bed.
  13. Long gone, despite what Hollywood would have you believe.
  14. if that’s all you know about Jack Murtha … you don’t know Jack.
  15. He stopped completely, standing, apparently distracted, outside the hotel, looking at his watch, checking the passersby, watching for someone who hesitated, someone who might slow down and stop.
  16. If she left now, she’d still make it to St. Camillus to light that candle.
  17. Frank sat on the tailgate of his glossy new Ford pick-up, watching the men in the trench work.
  18. After some light-hearted banter about the craziness of the music business and the foibles of the various artists, dinner arrived.
  19. Steered the conversation toward innocuous subjects.
  20. Rainie was missing. How could he be sitting in a luxury sedan?
  21. At the best of times, I’m a slow reader, this wasn’t one of those times.
  22. After hanging up the phone, I ate a solitary late-night snack, did some reading, climbed into bed and eventually got some sleep.
  23. Led him through greening hills and valleys, but he was only dimly aware of the scenery.
  24. The subtext is…
  25. He stirred powdered milk into the dark liquid until it turned the color of caramel.
  26. They’d covered some of this territory before.
  27. She sat for a moment, organizing her thoughts on how to proceed.
  28. Stromsoe was in high school when he met the boy who would someday murder his wife and son..
  29. I waited. The rain came down hard on the roof of the car. A station wagon with fake wood sides pulled in beside us and a man and woman and three children piled out and scooted through the rain. I could hear the running lines of a power boat as it edged along toward where Hog Island would have been had the day been sunny and clear. I waited. Me and Carl.
  30. I was going to be late for Susan if I didn’t close this off.
  31. I was just sitting here wondering what I could do to be nice to you, and now you call.
  32. If you ever find yourself in the part of the world where France and Germany meet and want your heart broken, drive up…. (describe the scenery).
  33. One scene with a character. Next scene on the same topic, but with different characters. Ie, Glitsky interrogating a suspect. Next scene, in his car on the phone, relaying the information to someone else for analysis.
  34. Carrying a tray with coffee and cups and cookies, she set it down on the table in front of Abe.
  35. Kind of guy you wanted out of the gene pool.
  36. While I waited, I read the vulgar graffiti on the phone box.
  37. what’s any of this got to do with…
  38. just couldn’t get the image of her odd blue eyes out of his head, and he had been dazzled by the firelight shooting burnished copper glints through her luxurious hair.
  39. Reminded him of his age, his descending career path and his developing sense of isolation.
  40. I walked all the way around the truck and pondered Weebe’s hypothesis. If I had…
  41. On both sides of the map were framed photographs (use them to provide background).
  42. Standing under the hot water, trying to punch holes in his plan.
  43. Diane was in early the next morning. After a workout at home, she jogged the museum nature trail and took a shower in her office suite. She felt invigorated. Her arm was healing nicely. She did some museum business and had put all the finished papers on Andie’s  by the time her assistant arrived. They spent a few minutes discussing museum business, then Diane went upstairs to the crime lab.
  44. more surprising than the crash was that she was dying in English.
  45. She’d be landing in about an hour. She’d stop at Heney’s, get Pearl, and go home. She’d feed Pearl, unpack and hang everything up carefully, iron things that had wrinkled, take a bath, put on the pajamas she usually wore when she slept without me, get in bed with Pearl, have a half cup of frozen chocolate yogurt sweetened with aspartame, and watch a movie. Pearl would burrow under the covers and then Susan would fall asleep.
  46. I ate in the silence and drank my coffee and looked occasionally at Susan’s picture on my desk.

Click for the complete list of 70 69 writer’s themed descriptions.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. 


7 thoughts on “46 Transitions That Help Your Story Flow

  1. Great list. But, “have I done something wrong?” is said every 20 minutes by some husband, some where… 😉

  2. Jacqui, you amaze me. I love so many of these tidbits you’ve collected, and sometimes I mark a passage with a highlighter or by tagging a page. No way can I transfer so many passages to my journal, just to savor later. And read 5 books a week? I read all the time, but maybe complete one every two weeks.

  3. 28 made me want to read more! 35 made me laugh. You got me thinking about how I can make transitions not just move the story along, but make an impact. Thanks Jacqui!

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