Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Transitions - Eileen Charbonneau - Elements of the Novel

When I think of transitions, I think of "How do we get from here to there." This can mean going fromone location to another in a story, sort of Meanwhile, back at the ranch. This is only one part of the use of transition. You may be going from one character to another or from one chapter to another. In Elements of the Novel, Eileen Charbonneau gives some ways to do this.

Extra white spaces or the *** can give the reader a hint that something is going to change. One thing I've found useful here is to locate the reader in character or setting when there's a change. Show the new character doing something and let the reader know who this character is. Setting changes should quickly show the reader where they are.

The most important of the transitions is the chapter break. Eileen suggests finding a point in your chapter where making the break holds a moment of suspense. I've often used one of the characters asking or thinking a question that may or may not be answered at the start of a new chapter. The question could be something simple like Where's Johnny? And the next chapter could start Johnny lay in the trunk of the sedan. Though this is a bit simplistic, if the reader cares about the character they're going to end the chapter wondering and start reading the next chapter to find more about the characters.

So choose your transitions with care and hone them. The reader will be hooked and keep reading.



I have a writer friend who doesn't do chapter breaks until she identifies the ending hook. Good stuff.

Coleen Kwan said...

Good tips. I often think my chapter endings are a bit 'blah'. Now I'll want to make them more creative.