Writing Scene Transitions

Monday, May 31



In answer to Marian's question, I decided to do an entire post. Hope it helps.

When jumping from scene to scene, it can end up choppy and confusing. This can be especially difficult for those who write out of chronological order (like me.)
So how do we smoothly stitch together all the changes in tone/setting?

Chapters
Chapters are handy when there's a major change in scenery. The end of a chapter usually signifies the end of a scene and folds up the tone of the previous chapter. But what if the jump between scenes is too short?

Telling Link
However much you want the dramatic pause at the end of the scene, sometimes the transition could be a simple sentence showing passage of time.
"He watched her disappear into the rain" can be a dramatic scene ending. But what if the next scene abruptly begins with, "'I don't understand women,' he said glumly, staring into his lukewarm coffee"? The solution is a small passage telling the events that led up to that moment. Example;

He watched her disappear into the rain, unable to move. Then, with a sigh that stuck to the wet cement, he walked back inside and climbed into bed, his damp clothes still on. But he did not sleep. When the gray morning light sifted through his curtains, he fell out of bed, numbly shuffling to his small kitchen.
"I don't understand women," he told his lukewarm coffee glumly...
The transition can be used to not only meld the two places together, but to provide extra information.

Traveling Transitions
One of the more difficult transitions to write is a change in setting. They need to get from A to B, but the plane ride is mediocre.
You have two options; quickly explain the length of the journey ("Two peanut packages and a Leo Tolstoy novel later, they arrived...") or shake things up a bit ("The man to her right smiled cheerfully at her. Too cheerfully. Alice clutched her handbag firmly. He'd get a shot of pepper spray if he so much as moved. But Alice didn't see him slip the pill into her water, or notice him nod to the silver-haired woman across the aisle...")

5 comment(s):

Caroline Monday, May 31, 2010  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous,  Monday, May 31, 2010  

Oh, thankyou so much. This helps A LOT.

Marian Tuesday, June 01, 2010  

Thanks for writing this post! :) My problem seems to be that my chapters are too long, and I also need to work on writing better telling links. For me, I think it's harder to end a scene than to start one...

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