First off, there's not really any need to rack to a second fermentor except in a few cases where a second fermentation (such as adding fruit) is actually needed. Most of us just leave our beer in the primary fermentor for the entirety of the fermentation/
For good beer, proper fermentation is the key. And I will give you a quick tutorial.
First you need enough yeast. Use a yeast calculator such as the one at www.mrmalty.com
to see how much yeast you need (or how big a starter you need) for any given batch. With liquid yeast it is always best to use a starter in almost every case - or at the very least you will need to pitch multiple vials/packs depending on gravity of wort. If you don't want to mess with starters stick with dry yeast as it does not require a starter (but you may need multiple packets depending on starting gravity).
Make sure you have plenty of head space in your fermentor. For a 5 gallon batch you need at least a 6.5 gallon fermentor or your krausen will clog your airlock. Alternatively you can fashion a "blow off tube" (google search it) and you may need one even with a larger head space depending on the krausen from the yeast.
Aeration is important. I recommend a diffusion stone and pure o2 (you can buy this stuff at any homebrew shop) but there are other cheaper alternatives. Shaking will work but you will need to shake the hell out of it for at least 20 minutes.
Temperature is key. If you ferment too warm you will have bad tasting beer. If you temperature fluctuates too much your fermentation will stall and start again. Different yeast ferment at different temps but for most ale yeasts you are probably better off fermenting in the low to mid 60s. Fermentation is exothermic and you fermentation temp will be 4-6+ degrees over ambient temp so if you are fermenting in a 68 degree room your temp is way too high. You need to find a way to keep the temp cool. Some use "swamp coolers" - do search on this.
You should always cool your wort down to the temp you plan on fermenting at - or preferably even a little cooler - before aerating and pitching yeast! So if you plant on fermenting at 66, lower the temp to 60-66 before pitching. For most ales it is important to never let the temp get over 68-70 degrees (72 at the very highest) during the first 48-72 hours to reduce fusel alcohols (the head ache, head retention killing, bad tasting stuff).
After holding the temp stead for the first couple of days you can slowly let the temp raise up to finish out. After 3 days you may even want to just let the temp raise up into the low 70s, but keep it steady. Large temp shifts will cause stalling.
You do all this and your fermentations will be very predictable and you will have much less surprises.