When you construct a sentence, where you place certain words and phrases can add impact and help focus the story. It can also help naturally transition you into the next sentence.
Think about our in-class exercise on a feature, narrative lead. Here is the story.
The [steps] leading to Ted Drake’s Wesley Neighborhood apartment can be [treacherous]. Duct tape keeps the bannister in place and the wood step risers are warped or loose.
The [conditions inside] get even [worse].
His kitchen is infested with mice and roaches. The bathroom lacks electricity and Drake has to wash his face by candlelight over a stained sink.
“It’s a dump,” said Drake, a senior at Towson University majoring in architecture. “But it was the cheapest thing I could find.”
Drake’s story is becoming all too common. Each year, dozens of unsafe apartments in Wesley and nearby neighborhoods are being rented to area college students.
The words “steps” and “treacherous” are placed at the beginning and end of the sentence to add impact and reverberate in the head of the reader. Just by placing them there the reader WANTS to know just how treacherous these steps are and what specifically about them makes it so. The next sentence provides that and you don’t need an intervening sentence or phrase to transition you there. The transition is natural and invisible, the way good writing should be.
Likewise, the focus words “conditions’ “inside” and “worse” lead the reader to the next paragraph and set of details. In essence, they foreshadow what is to come. The reader is expecting you to take them inside and show how bad the conditions are in there. Again, no awkward transition needed, the copy just flows.
When you’re building a story, try to find the right focus words and placement for them to move the story forward and lead into details.