Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Write Transitions

Transitions are delicate to write because you need to help the reader move from one scene or chapter to another (or within a scene, but to a new location). The easiest approach is to forego transitions altogether. However, I do not suggest that approach, because if you do that, all of your scenes will be static and stagnant, and each scene and chapter beginning will feel disjointed from the rest of the story.

Other approaches include:
1. Using a theme, or
2. Connecting dialogue to the next setting or action

1. Use a theme -- In this approach, all of your chapters might end similarly. For example, my complete novel (The Promethean Remnant), the main character changes locations with every chapter. For the first few chapters, I describe in detail exactly how she travels from one place to another. After the third chapter, though, I understand that the read knows what is happening, so I am able to make less detailed references to the type of travel, usually just mentioning the beginning of it and then cutting to the next chapter.

2. Connect dialogue to the next setting or action -- This approach can be corny if done poorly, or brilliant if done well. In the novel that I mentioned above, at the end of one chapter a supporting character explains to the main character where they are going next. However, he describes the place in very general, evasive terms. By the end of his speech, (hopefully) the reader shares the main character's annoyance, and their curiosity propels them into the next chapter.

You can also do this more subtly, such as ending a scene with two people in an office talking about their annual hunting trips, and then having the next scene or chapter take place at a hunting lodge, or out in the wilderness. Transitions like that help connect the entire story, making it a more cohesive experience for the reader.

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