Transitions

Question: Okay, so I've been working on a novel for quite a while, and I have recently had to start over because the story is too choppy. I have a severe issue with connecting "scenes" (I don't really know if there is another word for it). I can write the scene very very well, it is just connecting the scene with the last one I have trouble with.


Is there an antidote to my brain-fart? THANKS!

Answer: A few tips on this subject:

1. Make sure you are clear that the one scene has ended before starting a new one. It should have a feeling of completeness to it. Also, it is helpful to have either a chapter break or an extra space in the manuscript that signals a transition.

2. The key to transitions is to orient the reader in the new scene, so he knows he is in a different place, time, and possibly viewpoint.

Sometimes it is a simple matter of beginning the new scene with a phrase like, "When John arrived home that evening..." Other times, the reader needs to be filled in a little more about what has happened since the last scene, or what the characters have been doing or thinking in response to what happened in the previous scene, so that the reader begins the new scene feeling "up to speed."

3. Keep in mind that plots unfold in a cause and effect chain, such that an action will lead to a decision, which will lead to a new action, etc. In an action story, the decisions may not take up a lot of space, but they are still important.

4. Try looking at some of your favorite novels to see how those authors take their readers from one scene to the next. This can vary depending on style and genre. For example, "hard boiled" novels may not spend much time on character deliberations and make transitions using as few words as possible. Other novels may take a page or two summarizing what a character has been up to over a course of weeks or months before the next big scene.

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