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Getting From Here To There: Transitions

 

Getting From Here To There:  Transitions

Hello Everyone, Winnie Griggs. I'm deep in the midst of working through copyedits so I hope you'll excuse me if I reprise a post I did here back in 2009. It was the first post I did for Seekerville, waaaay back before I became a regular blogger here.

Getting From Here To There:  Transitions


When writing your story, you don’t want to include a detailed account of every action taken by every character in your story, nor do you always want to unfold the story linearly.  Instead, a good writer will carefully select those scenes that are not only of interest but that also progress the plot in some way.  Which means, by necessity, gaps will occur: gaps in time, in movement from one location to another, in point of view, in scene focus. 

Transitions are those small but oh-so-important words or phrases that help guide your readers across these story gaps smoothly, while keeping them grounded in your story.  There are several techniques or devices you can utilize to do this effectively. 

Getting From Here To There:  Transitions

 

The Direct Method or ‘Clean Break’- Simply tell the reader what change has taken place:

Early the following Monday, ...  (Time change) 

Once he reached the parking garage....  (Location change)

 

Mood -  Use feelings, emotions, atmosphere to help convey the change:

As Stan pulled out of the company garage onto the congested highway, his hands clutched the wheel in a death grip and the cords in his neck tightened.  It would take forever to get out of this tangle of traffic...

Once the city was behind him, however, the tension drained away and he breezed down the open road that led to his summer cabin.    (Time and Location change)


The Five Senses - Use sound, sight, touch, taste and/or smell to bridge a story gap:

Getting From Here To There:  Transitions


Margie hummed as she applied an extra spray of her favorite cologne, enjoying the light floral scent. 

Andy’s nose started to twitch before Margie even entered the room.  Why did she insist on using that nasty flowery perfume that always made him sneeze? (POV change)

 

Cassie heard a distant grumble of thunder off to the east as she closed her book.  Maybe Allan was finally getting some of that rain he’d been hoping for.

Allan squinted through the windshield, looking for a safe place to pull over and wait out the violent storm.  This wasn’t what he’d had in mind when he’d prayed for a ‘bit of rain’.     (POV and location change)

 

An Event - Use an ongoing, recent or anticipated event to unify your scenes:

Hesitating for only a heartbeat, Lynda dropped the letter into the mail slot, determined to make the first move toward reconciliation.  When a week passed without a response, however, she began to wonder if contacting her grandfather had been such a wise move after all.  (Time change)

 

The near-crash triggered a memory, one she’d rather not dwell on.  But there it was, full blown and swooshing in like an avalanche.  That other crash had happened six years ago.  Her mom was driving her and her friends to the airport...  (Time change - flashback)

 

A Character (whether human or otherwise) - Use the mention of a character to guide us through a story shift:

Stacey pulled into her driveway on Friday afternoon, wondering how she’d let her sister talk her into dog-sitting their troublesome mutt for the weekend.  She really wasn’t big into the whole pet scene.  

But by Sunday evening,, Rufus had wormed his shaggy way right into her heart.  (Time change)

 

An Object - Use an object or activity to move from one scene to another without jarring the reader:

Roger halted mid-sentence as a baseball came crashing through the window.  Blast it all, he’d told Jimmy not to play ball in the yard.                 

He picked up the ball and marched to the door . Jimmy was going to pay to fix this, even if it meant he had to mow every yard in town to do it.  (Change in scene focus)

 

The Environment- Use weather, terrain, scenery, seasons to depict change:

Getting From Here To There:  Transitions

The autumn seemed long that year.  Perhaps it was because she was so homesick for the Ozarks, where nature painted the mountainsides with magnificent blazes of color.  Winter was easier, and by spring, the Texas gulf coast was beginning to feel, if not like home, at least less alien to her.  

(Time change - extended period)

 

 These are just a sampling.  There are, of course, other ways to handle transitions.  Just keep in mind - your main goal in using transitions is to keep your reader grounded and oriented in the who, what, where, and when of your story without their having to reread passages to figure it out. 

Any thoughts on this post? Can you think of other ways to smoothly handle transitions?  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

 

Conference Fun and Transitions

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last weekend I attended the Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend in Dallas and wanted to share just a little bit of the fun we had with a few quick photos:

The weekend kicked off with a reader scavenger hunt on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of my table, but here is a photo of the spinner I used at my table to award the various little prizes I handed out.
Conference Fun and Transitions


Next was an author bingo sponsored by me and four other author friends - Julia London, Angi Morgan, Sasha Summers and C.A.Szarek. These are always so fun, for both the authors and the readers. Here's a pic of the author team (some of us took the PJ party aspect more serious than others :) )
Conference Fun and Transitions



On Saturday I hosted a table for lunch. This year I chose Cool Chicks Read as my theme and I had a great time collecting and creating items that would fit.
Conference Fun and Transitions


Then Saturday afternoon I was part of a panel titled I'm Holding Out For A Hero along with authors Bethany Turner, D B Reynolds and Tif Marcelo. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a competition with me and Tif paired off against D.B. and Bethany. We were given questions that required us to answer with either lists or drawings and then the attendees voted on whose responses they liked best. Suffice it to say there was a LOT of laughter at our responses. The session actually ended in a tie (or maybe the moderators just decided to cut it off there :)  )

Conference Fun and Transitions



Then there was a booksigning where I got to sit next to my panel-mate, Tif Marceello.
Conference Fun and Transitions

The day ended with supper where I got to sit at the table hosted by the always fun and fabulous C.A Szarek
Conference Fun and Transitions

A wonderful end to a wonderful event!

Conference Fun and Transitions

And now for the writing portion of this post, I thought I'd dust off a post I did here ten years ago on Transitions:

Transitions: Getting From Here To There

When writing your story, you don’t want to include a detailed account of every action taken by every character in your story, nor do you always want to tell the story linearly. Instead, a good writer will select those scenes that are not only of interest but that also progress the plot in some way. Which means, by necessity, gaps will occur: gaps in time, in movement from one location to another, in point of view, in scene focus.

Transitions are those small but oh-so-important words or phrases that help guide your reader across these story gaps smoothly and while still remaining grounded in your story. There are several techniques or devices that you can utilize to do this effectively. Some of them are:

The Direct Method or ‘Clean Break’- Simply tell the reader what change has taken place:

  • Early the following Monday, Michael.... (Time change)
  • Once he reached the parking garage.... (Location change)

Mood - Use feelings, emotions, atmosphere to help convey the change:

  • As Stan pulled out of the company garage onto the congested highway, his hands clutched the wheel in a death grip and the cords in his neck tightened. It would take forever to get out of this tangle of traffic...
  • Once the city was behind him, however, the tension drained away and he breezed down the open road that led to his summer cabin. (Time and Location change)

The Five Senses - Use sound, sight, touch, taste and smell to bridge a story gap:

  • Margie hummed as she applied an extra spray of her favorite cologne, enjoying the light floral scent.

    Andy’s nose started to twitch before Margie even entered the room. Why did she insist on using that nasty flowery perfume that always made him sneeze? (POV change)
  • Cassie heard a distant grumble of thunder off to the east as she closed her book. Maybe Allan was finally getting some of that rain he’d been hoping for.

    Allan squinted through the windshield, looking for a safe place to pull over and wait out the violent storm. This wasn’t what he’d had in mind when he’d prayed for a ‘bit of rain’. (POV and location change)

An Event - Use an ongoing, recent or anticipated event to unify your scenes:

  • Hesitating for only a heartbeat, Lynda dropped the letter into the mail slot, determined to make the first move toward reconciliation.
    When a week passed without a response, however, she began to wonder if contacting her grandfather had been such a wise move after all. (Time change)
  • The near-crash triggered a memory, one she’d rather not dwell on. But there it was, full blown and swooshing in like an avalanche. That other crash had happened six years ago. Her mom was driving her and her friends to the airport... (Time change - flashback)

A Character (whether human or otherwise) - Use the mention of a character to guide us through a story shift:

  • Stacey pulled into her driveway on Friday afternoon, wondering how she’d let her sister talk her into dog-sitting their troublesome mutt for the weekend. She really wasn’t big into the whole pet scene.
    But by Sunday evening,, Rufus had wormed his shaggy way right into her heart. (Time change)

An Object - Use an object or activity to move from one scene to another without jarring the reader:

  • Roger halted mid-sentence as a baseball came crashing through the window. Blast it all, he’d told Jimmy not to play ball in the yard.
    He picked up the ball and marched to the door . Jimmy was going to pay to fix this, even if it meant he had to mow every yard in town to do it. (Change in focus)

The Environment- Use weather, terrain, scenery, seasons to depict change:
  • The autumn seemed long that year. Perhaps it was because she was so homesick for the Ozarks, where nature painted the mountainsides with magnificent blazes of color. Winter was easier, and by spring, the Texas gulf coast was beginning to feel, if not like home, at least less alien to her.   (Time change - extended period)


These are just a sampling. There are, of course, other ways to handle transitions. Just keep in mind - your main goal in using transitions is to keep your reader grounded and oriented in the who, what, where, and when of your story without their having to reread passages to figure it out.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

And now for some fun news. Just in time for Thanksgiving, my publisher has re-released my novella Home For Thanksgiving as part of their Love Inspired Classics program.  Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy


Conference Fun and Transitions

All that stands between Ruby Anne Tuggle and a fresh start is an escort to Tyler, Texas.

Rancher Griff Lassiter is too kind to refuse, but too wary of being hurt again to offer anything but protection on the journey. 

Then a fever forces an unexpected detour and a chance to find the place they both belong...


To learn more or get your copy, check HERE

Getting From Here To There:  TransitionsConference Fun and Transitions

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