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Numerous sources say the best way to learn the craft is to deconstruct and analyze novels.

The reader in me fights that advice because I like to read fiction for the escape. I’m better at analyzing movies, hitting pause on the DVD remote to make notes, but the two mediums handle transitions a little different. I aim to see my name on the cover of a book one day. What’s a poor writer to do? Sit down with pen, paper, and a book or dozen…

I’ve been studying scene transitions lately while reading.

My favorite authors make it seamless…or at least it feels that way when I’m reading. One scene flows artfully into the next. Whereas I find myself marking each scene with a # or something. Fine and dandy in the first draft. And some of those breaks naturally become chapter breaks.

What about the rest?

In The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Marshall calls these connectors.

Think of your novel’s sections as pearls in a necklace. The best-made strands of pearls have tiny knots in the string between the pearls, to hold them tightly in place and keep the necklace strong.

In your novel, the knots between your pearls are called connectors. They’re devices to connect your sections as effectively as possible.

  • The Space-Break which is great for shifts in point of view and heightening the dramatic impact of an action scene failure. Marshall also talks about using it to indicate time has passed.
  • The Run-Together which Marshall talks about using between two sections featuring the same point of view character when connecting text isn’t needed. An action scene to a reaction scene or a reaction scene to an action scene. Check out Alison Kent’s excellent post: Scenes & Sequels: a mini workshop.
  • And, the Summary which is used when a Space-Break is too dramatic but the Run-Together would be too abrupt.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

The goal, of course, is for the transition to happen so readers don’t even notice it. My favorite authors nail it, I bet yours do too, which makes studying it a challenge. Yep, I’m far from done with this aspect of the craft. How do I know? I was rubbish coming up with examples for this post (and I deleted them all).

What I’ve learned:

  1. The Run-Together transitions are the hardest for me to spot when reading.
  2. The Summary transitions are the easiest for me to write during the revision process.
  3. And, even after revisions, I rely on the Space-Break transitions like a crutch.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on scene transitions.

Readers: Do you notice the transition from scene to scene? Do you have a favorite method?

Writers: How do you handle your transitions?

You might also like:
Transitions in Story
Getting From Here to There: Transitions

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