Another post from the past – this time looking at how to take your characters from one place to another, and to take the reader along too.
Transitions are used to:
- Change time
- Change location
- Change character viewpoint
- To skip unimportant time periods or events
One issue I’ve seen with many writers is that they put too much detail in these transitions, showing how a character gets from one place to another – getting into their car, driving home, parking, walking up the stairs to their apartment, just like this scene from the infamous B-movie Birdemic:
The reader doesn’t need to know that. They just want to get on with the story, on to what happens next.
So how do you use transitions skilfully?
- Start a new chapter – this easily lets your reader know the narrative has moved on
- If you’re changing scene/time/viewpoint within a chapter use a physical sign like ***** centred on the page, or double space and then don’t indent the first line of your next paragraph.
- Keep it short and simple – ‘That night’, ‘The next morning’.
- Jump right in – rather than say: ‘When Linda arrived at the coffee shop the next morning’ go for ‘Linda slid into the booth and took a sip of her first coffee of the day.’ We know where and when Linda is straight away.