How do you transition smoothly from plot point to plot point?

by Josie E.
(Fukui, Japan)

Question: In a "Hero's Journey," where the quest is essentially to find something (treasure, person, lost island), how do you transition from plot point to plot point?

For example, let's say in order to find the treasure-person-lost island, you establish that your characters must gather clues along the way and go through some trials and disasters. Along the way, you also want to develop characters and their relations to each other.

However, for a journey that takes, let's say, a year... how do you fade smoothly from event to event?

You show some clue gathering, resulting in some character development, and then.... 10 days later? Here's a trial! How do I make a time leap smoothly without making the reader ask, "Wait, what? How long have they been traveling?"

Answer: The simplest way to indicate a time gap is to simply state it, as in "We traveled westward, following the map, for nine uneventful days. Then on the tenth day, something strange occurred."

That may be a bit pedestrian, but you get my point.

There are two modes in fiction: scenes and narrative summary. Narrative summary is used to transition between events by simply giving the reader a brief summary of what happens between the two scenes that sets the stage for the next scene. You can also use the break between scenes for the narrator's reflections, observations, etc.

At any rate, when you're ready to start the next scene, a little statement that orients the reader and sets the stage for what is about to happen is most helpful.

Of course, also you want each key event to send the story in a slightly different direction, so the reader wonders what will happen next.

If in doubt, take several of your favourite novels and look at how the authors transition between some of the events in each novel. That should give you a few ideas.

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