In life and in story, you have these things called transitions. Places were things change.
You go from one place to another, one scene to another, one chapter to another, one husband to another, one president to another.
A really good transition is really just a bridge that helps the reader go logically from one section, scene, chapter to another without it being awkward like a bad date or making their brain hitch where they say things like “We were just in space and now we’re at Wal-Mart? What the heck?”
Some people are amazing at transitions.
Some people have awkward transitions.
Some refuse to acknowledge there even is a transition.
But in the writing world, you want them to be smooth and there are a bunch of transitional phrases and words that authors fall back on to help them do that like:
- A week later (or whenever)
- At the same time
- For two weeks/days/minutes
- At night
- The next day
- The next night
- For a month, I cried into the phone
- In the morning
- When the sun rose
- When the sun set
- The following Monday/night/morning
- Months passed
- Weeks passed
- When we got back to the office
- When they got back home
- As the neared the date site
Then there are the phrases that show us a change in location:
- They boarded the train
- Down the street
- Up on the third floor of the office
- Over by the water cooler
- Back in my living room
- The motorcycle was situated
- She ran fast through the dark alley
- In the hall of the hospital
- Outside on my front lawn
And so on. There are a lot more examples of both of these, but we just wanted to give you a quick look at them.
Sometimes though, us writers tell our readers TOO much and it ends up sounding like script or stage directions. Those are things that slow the narrative down and just read a bit awkward or stilted.
It would be a sentence like:
When I arrived at the elevator to go up to the office on the fourth floor, I pushed the button to close the door and rode it to the floor.
They drove to the restaurant and waited in line for their table and she hummed a little bit.
Instead you just want the transition to get us there into the juicy part of the scene:
Twenty minutes later, they were sitting at their table, playing footsie under the fancy white linen tablecloth when the giant hedgehog with a man bun stormed through the wooden doors.
Places like the bad examples are not really needed because:
- It doesn’t really add to the story.
- It doesn’t really add to the character.
- It’s unnecessary information.
You really only want things in your story that:
- Show your character’s inner state/characterization/choices
- Move the plot forward.
- Set the reader in the moment.
Story is all about characters making choices, being proactive and moving things forward and showing us who they are by those choices and their dialogue. So, you want to focus on getting the reader to those scenes where people interact and the character has to make a choice that either goes towards or against their main wants. Effective transitions help get us there but also ground the reader in the moment and time of the story in a logical, cool way.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
If you never, get off the couch, you never have a chance for treats from the pantry. If you snap every single time someone strartles you awake, you get less love. Embrace the transitions. They are opportunities for growth, to evolve, to learn new stuff, and potentially get some veggie bacon.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
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