Posted by: nancycurteman | May 29, 2014

How to Add Creative Transitions to Your Novel

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Stories consist of chapters and scenes. Transitions are what come between. They are what connect one scene or chapter to a previous one. They need to be creative andshiny flow with the story content.

Use transitions to move a reader to a new place or time. Use them as a way to change to a new point of view character or even a given character’s change of perspective, values or goals.

Transitions can happen at the beginning and/or end of scenes and chapters. Used at the end they need to generate reader interest, anticipation and eagerness to turn the page. Used at the beginning, they orient the reader to a new time, place or character mood.

Let’s look at a few ways to create character changes and  beginning and ending transitions.

Transitional endings:
• End the scene with a question
Can we get there before the tide floods the entrance to the cave?
Is it safe for me to get into his car?

• End with a provocative statement
She slammed the door and he knew she’d had enough.
Her car stalled on the railroad tracks.

• End with an action.
She flung the flowers into the trash.
He aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.

Transitional beginnings:
• Passage of time
Three cocktails later he gave up waiting for her.
The daffodils signaled the end of the long winter.

• Change of place
Two flat tires later he arrived at the border.
After two exhausting campaigns she made it to D.C.

Transitions to  different character points of view and changes in character goals or values:
• Embed new character points of view in new scenes.
Confusion results when you jump in and out of characters’ heads in the same scene.
• Provide a life changing incident that will precipitate a dramatic change  in character values or goals—a death, divorce, shock, accident, loss.

Creative transitions are more interesting to readers than the run-of-the-mill kinds like—Next Tuesday…, He arrived in Chicago…, It started to rain… Give as much thought to your transitions as you give to your scenes and chapters.

More tips:

How to Create a Plot for a Novel

How to Write Novel Scenes That Are Novel

4 Attributes of an Engaging Novel

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Responses

  1. Good examples, NC. When a chapter begins in a new place and time and the author doesn’t give adequate clues, readers are left wondering “where am I?” instead of focusing on the story’s unfolding.

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    • Great to get the perspective of a reader and author. Thanks NH 🙂

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  2. Great examples. Sometimes writers waste too much time on unnecessary details between scenes/chapters. A good transition makes the joins seamless.

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    • I agree with you. Nothing turns a reader off faster than an abundance of unnecessary verbiage that slows or stops the action. Good observation.

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  3. Terrific examples. I like to think that a good transition ending acts like a punch-line. Not that it’s a joke, but that it punctuates with a punch, and leads the reader onward in your tale. As you imply, originality and thoughtfully “digging deeper” is good at both beginnings and ends. But make it sound natural, within the voice of the teller or even build on the teller, such as ending a scene with a question surely does.

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    • Richard, Thank you for your well-thought-out observations. Ending a scene is one of my favorite transitions,too.

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