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Tricky Transitions

The Rich Writer: Tricky Transitions

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tricky Transitions

Does anyone else find that transitions are the trickiest part of the book to write? As I plug along through the first draft of my new yet-to-be-named YA fantasy, I find that I can whiz through writing a scene—that’s the easy part. The hard part is getting to the next scene.

For inspiration, I do what I always do: pull out a few great books and take a look at how other authors accomplish the dreaded transition. I thought I’d share my findings…rage

In Rage, by Julie Anne Peters, I found a number of scenes that start in the middle of the action. For instance:

p. 59: Robbie bounds into the room a few seconds after me. Doesn’t say hi or hello or no or “cooperate with Johanna.”

p. 106: “Johanna, there you are.” Tessa sits up in one of the lawn chairs out back, crocheting a square of pink and purple yarn.

shield of starsIn Shield of Stars, author Hilari Bell sometimes begins a scene with a summary of the time that passed since the end of the previous scene:

p. 101: Setting a brisk pace, they managed to reach the small village of Sweetsprings just after dark.

p. 122: It took them a day and a half to reach Coverton.

factoflife In Fact of Life #31, Denise Vega provides examples of beginning with a quick sentence to set the scene (which is kind of like Hilari’s “time passes” transitions, above.

p. 213: About a week after the New Year’s Eve Horror, I was dusting the Babies on Parade wall when the door banged open. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.

p. 218: Abby had tried to get in touch with Libby.

…So what good does this do me? Well, now I have a few “types” of transition to try. Also, these books all reminded me why my current transition attempts aren’t working: a good transition is short, moving quite rapidly to the scene. Currently, my transition is long, filling in the reader with lots of little details that can come out elsewhere.

I’m back to the book-writing now. I’ll let you know how it goes!

:) Cheryl

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2 Comments:

At September 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM , Blogger Tia Nevitt said...

Love this post. I learned about transitions while reading the Harry Potter books. She leads from one transition to the other by having the conclusion of a scene where Harry thinks about an upcoming event--like quiddich practice. Then, the next scene is quiddich practice.

I liked this approach because it aimed the reader at the next scene with just the right amount of anticipation, if it wasn't a outright cliffhanger.

 
At September 14, 2009 at 7:03 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Oh, that's a great book to put on my inspiration pile! I think I had Sorcerer's Stone there once upon a time, but my kids probably claimed it. Those kids, thinking that just because I collect all these cool childrens books, they can read them....!

Thanks for sharing a terrific point, Tia.

 

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