Saturday, August 09, 2008


I'm on the road today so another short blog post.

First a big SHOUT OUT for Holly Cupala who sold not one but two books to Harpercollins this past week. Read all about it here!

I'm going to chat for a minute about transitions in novels. Transitions need to be seamless. A clunky transition will kill the narrative flow, knock your reader out of the willful suspension on disbelief and will cause your book to be put down or worse tossed into the bin. There is this annoying business of moving characters from scene to scene in a novel that is somewhat boring and tedious to deal with. If you write, you know the drill. First, the characters are at the fair and then they go to the house and after that out to the swimming hole. How do we make these changes in scene authentic? It's all in the details, and if we are mindful, we might even be able add a definition to our characters, theme, or plot with our scene transtions.

I find a few things help me make smooth transitions; I'll cover a couple of useful tips here. First, less is more. Often over-writing the scene transtion and then pulling back helps me make the that seamless step. Write out every detail of the transition and then go back and cut the flack and fluff. Next, try making maps of the origin and destination settings and also the pathway between them. I recommend drawing diagrams of the various "sets" the characters move through. This helps me write realistic scene transitions. This way the business of where the piano is in relation to the clown punching bag is always clear. And you have the bonus of the complete map if you ever return to that the setting location in the story.

I also look for ways to twist in theme when I make a transition. I like to have echos within the setting that reflect the purpose of my plot. If I'm writing a coming of age story, I like to have transitions that are sharp and contrast greatly -- like from a playground to a mosh pit. I'm always searching for the opportunities to echo themes. If my character is going from a place of darkness to a place of great light, I will echo this in scene transitions (i.e. going from a dark place like a cellar to a place full of light like a mountain top.) I think this helps strengthen the writing, giving greater substance to the story.

I hope that you try to improve your transitions this week.

My doodle of the week is called Promise.

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Not in his goals but in his transitions is man great. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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