Got two minutes? Then check out this week’s quick tip ~ Using smooth transitions when moving characters through your story
Hello and welcome…I am a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, as well as an author. I often struggle with my own writing, and I have found that sometimes, a little reminder of ways to improve the process can be helpful, so, I like to share these moments of brilliance with others :). But, in this busy world of ours, who has time for pages and pages of writing tips? That’s why I’ve condensed mine down to quick flashes you can read in (approximately) two minutes. Enjoy…
Disclaimer: All of my tips are suggestions, and are only my opinion. And, for the most part, there are exceptions when going against my advice will make your story read better. Take what works, leave the rest.
Do you have problems deciding exactly how many of your characters’ movements you should reveal? I sometimes do. It can be tough to capture the correct balance between noting every tiny step/detail and having them appear and disappear like the witches in Bewitched. Over the years, I’ve gotten a little better at naturally moving my characters around, but it can still be a challenge. And, based on some of the books I have read, I’m not the only one who has difficulties. Here are a few examples…
From Haunting at Spook Light Inn (Formerly Devil’s Promenade):
I slept fitfully in spite of the comfortable bed. The next morning, I awoke groggy and annoyed with myself. Ghosts, pshh. If I weren’t careful, I’d become one of those gullible sheep I targeted in my books. I showered and dressed in worn jeans and a ruby red mock-neck knitted sweater. I pulled my long hair back into a ponytail and decided not to bother with makeup.
It was eight, and I’d missed the communal breakfast at seven. No worries. I’d just as soon grab something and have a bite alone.
The maid from last night—Jean, Declan had called her—was in the kitchen, which was attached to an informal dining room. It was large with a marble center island and copper pots hanging from racks along the walls.
The above is an example of how I transferred the character down the hall to the bathroom and back in her bedroom upstairs and then downstairs to the kitchen with just a few transition sentences, rather than something like this…
I got out of bed and left my bedroom and walked down the hallway to the bathroom. I went inside and stepped into the shower. After my shower, I got out and left the bathroom. I went back down the hall and into my bedroom. I dressed and opened my bedroom door and left the room, closing the door behind me. I walked across the landing to the stairs and went down them. I crossed the living room to the kitchen at the back of the house. I went inside the kitchen.
Yes, this is a bit of an exaggeration and most authors would not do this (hopefully), but you might be surprised at the times I’ve seen every little detail of motion played out.
Then, you also have issues at the opposite end of the spectrum where a character is suddenly in a new spot without a transition. Have you read passages like this?
“It’s over. I’m sorry.” Mary sat back into the sofa cushion and sipped her coffee.
Dexter paced over to the window and stared outside. “It’s because of him, isn’t it? You always were a slut.”
Mary gasped and slapped him across the face. “How dare you!”
Whoa, whiplash! How did she slap him when she was sitting on the sofa and he was over by the window? Unless, she’s Inspector Gadget or Elasticgirl…
In this example from Soul Seducer, my character goes from the nurses’ station, down the hall into a patient’s room in, what I hope, is a smooth transition:
Audra raised her head from the notebook, and something down the hall caught her attention. At first, she wasn’t sure what it was. Nothing unusual that she could see; a few patients meandering along, hospital employees bustling about, performing their tasks by rote.
Then, she spotted something that was definitely out of the ordinary. A figure outside Mr. Neufeld’s room. Entering without opening the door she’d shut behind her. Walking right through solid wood.
Fear seeped into her chest, growing into panic and settling in the pit of her stomach. She skirted the desk, starting down the hallway, her speed increasing to match her heartbeat. She barely heard, didn’t acknowledge Tonya’s shouted, “Hey, Audra! What’s up? Everything okay?”
She reached Mr. Neufeld’s room and entered—using the door like a normal person.
Only moments before, she’d wished the man gone. Now he was. But she hadn’t meant it this way. His vacant stare pointed to the ceiling, his arms outspread, lying limp at his sides.
No response. Although she didn’t have to check to know, she rushed to the bed and pressed her fingers against his wrist, then to his neck.
Movement from the corner grabbed her attention.
Gaylen leaned against the wall, smiling, his golden eyes feral with excitement. She opened her mouth to speak, but her throat froze, and no words came out. Didn’t matter anyway. Gaylen gave her a wink, then faded through the wall.
Just keep in mind that you can convey activity without giving a list of choreographed steps, yet you don’t want to have a character suddenly appear somewhere without some kind of transition.
How about you? Is this something you struggle with or have you mastered it?
Until next time…Happy Writing!
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*** If you would like to send me a few sample pages (around 7500 words or so, even though I will not edit that many on the blog. It just gives me more to choose from) for me to edit and share on an upcoming blog post, please do so in the body of an email to AliciaMDean@aol.com. Please use the subject line: “Blog Submission” This is for published or unpublished authors. In the email, please include whether you would like me to use your name or keep it anonymous, and whether or not you would like me to include any contact info or buy info for your books. Also, you can let me know if you would like for me to run my edits by you before posting on the blog. Please keep in mind, this is for samples to use for blog posts. I will not edit or use samples from all the submissions I receive, but I will use as many as possible.
How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.
Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.
Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!
*** Warning – Please do not purchase without reading a sample. (This is solid advice for any book, fiction or non. If you are not intrigued in the sample, you will likely not enjoy the book)
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7 responses to “Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip – How to Get Characters from Point A to Point B”
Well, yeah. I have the same mobility problems. Since my characters frequently ride horses, I often use a quick trot or canter to get my characters from one place to another. Nice post!
Great tips as usual! Thank you! Love the snow on your page 🙂
Great examples. Sometimes I worry that I added too much. As always, thanks for the tip.
“Super” examples of your point, Alicia! LOL! Thanks for sharing the tip. BTW, have you had much of an accumulation of snow…I noticed it’s snowing here. 😉
Ha, thank you! LOL, funny how it’s not accumulating. Just falling and falling…
I too, try for smooth transitions..
Great info as always.
Sharing & pinning…
Good luck and God’s blessings
Excellent examples. I particularly liked the “bit of an exaggeration,” although, I too have seen some examples practically that extreme. I suppose some writers are naturals at this, but I would be more inclined to think most beginners must work to write smooth physical transitions…sequeing. Thanks, A.D.