Solitary waves (SWs) are generated in monoatomic (homogeneous) lightly contacting spherical granules by an applied input force of any time-variation and intensity. We consider finite duration shock loads on one-dimensional arrays of granules and focus on the transition regime that leads to the formation of SWs. Based on geometrical and material properties of the granules and the properties of the input shock, we provide explicit analytic expressions to calculate the peak value of the compressive contact force at each contact point in the transition regime that precedes the formation of a primary solitary wave. We also provide explicit expressions to estimate the number of granules involved in the transition regime and show its dependence on the characteristics of the input shock and material/geometrical properties of the interacting granules. Finally, we assess the accuracy of our theoretical results by comparing them with those obtained through numerical integration of the equations of motion.