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February 2018

    For Writers

    Trouble with Transition Scenes | #Writing Advice


    When you think of your story, you think of the Big Scenes, right? The important plot points, the vital Moments that challenge your characters and move your book along. But what about the transition scenes, connecting all those story events together? Transitional scenes can be incredibly difficult to get right. They’re a spot in your novel that’s rife for info-dumping, and a poorly written transition scene can drag like dead weight. But sometimes cutting it off entirely can mess up your story’s pacing!

    A good transition scene is seamless. You don’t notice it’s a transition, because you’re engaged in what you’re reading and the information you’re being given is naturally setting up for the next Story Event. The transition gives you something — a funny moment, a beautiful description, a thrilling bit of mystery, an enlightening character detail, a hint at the conflict or tension to come — that makes it move along smoothly.

    To start things off, what is a transition scene?

    A transition scene is the thread connecting disparate parts of your novel. Take some of these examples from Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince

    It might be a scene of time passing, such as snow falling over the Hogwarts grounds as the seasons change:

    Snow was swirling against the icy windows once more; Christmas was approaching fast. Hagrid had already single-handedly delivered the usual twelve Christmas trees for the Great Hall; garlands of holly and tinsel had been twisted around the banisters of the stairs; everlasting candles glowed from inside the helmets of suits of armor and great bunches of mistletoe had been hung at intervals along the corridors. Large groups of girls tended to converge underneath the mistletoe bunches every time Harry went past, which caused blockages in the corridors; fortunately, however, Harry’s frequent nighttime wanderings had given him an unusually good knowledge of the castle’s secret passageways, so that he was able, without too much difficulty, to navigate mistletoe-free routes between classes.

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    For Writers

    Am I Writing This Right? | A pep talk for writers struggling to be themselves

    Open Book with Text Am I Writing This Right?

    Writing can be a difficult and intimately personal undertaking. We all have different approaches, different voices, and different methods for the way in which we weave words. There are lots of ways to write a book, and a problem I’m seeing a lot in writing classes, blogs, and instructional books is the expectation of imparting the One True Way to write.

    As writers, we all develop our own voices, our own styles, and it can be discouraging — demoralizing, even — to be told that your style is “wrong”. That the only sentences worth writing are ones that Work Like This. (This crops up a lot when your writing class is bent towards literary fiction, but you want to write for speculative fiction, like fantasy or science fiction. Sometimes those books just work differently, don’t they?)

    It’s like being told the only way to walk down a street is by carrying yourself in a very specific posture. Yes, maybe it’s effective to throw your shoulders back and walk an even stride, but what if you want to run? What if your leg hurts, and you have to limp? What if you’re so happy, you want to skip? You still get yourself down that street, don’t you?

    Think of the books you’ve read.

    Some were mostly dialogue, and read like screenplays.

    Some were densely detailed, with evocative, lyrical prose.

    Some focused entirely on the character’s internal journey through an intense emotional change.

    Some were all plot, with twists and turns that blew your mind and characters that were mostly just vehicles for the reader to hop into and enjoy the ride.

    Some writers used clipped, sparse writing. Short sentences with which to convey their worlds.

    Others use sentences that twist and turn in their own right, snaking down the page like a coiling of ribbon.

    Some books are works of art.

    Some books are popcorn.

    Some stories stick with you your whole life.

    Some entertain you for an afternoon.

    No story, no book, and no writer’s style is inherently more valid than another’s.

    So when people heap rules on you, that This is the way your sentences should work, This is the kind of writing that is worthwhile, This is how to tell a story, and This, and This, and This makes you a good writer, while This, and This, and This does not–don’t worry. Don’t panic. And don’t quit.

    Every story is going to tell itself differently.

    No two writers are going to wield their pen in the same way.

    There are lots of ways to write a book.

    And there are lots of books left to write.

    Don’t worry so much about whether you’re doing it correctly. Don’t worry so much if your writing is “right”. Every book is different. Write yours however you want.


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    Reading Nourishes Writing

    January Reading Wrap Up (+ Mini-Reviews!)

    Hello, happy writers! I have to admit, as we crash into a rather dreary and windy February, I’m torn between two states of mind: January lasted literally 800 years and How in the world is January already over???

    January felt like a bit of a dud month to me. I didn’t get nearly the amount of writing and editing accomplished that I wanted to, and I had a hard time concentrate on writing in general. But! I did get a few things done! Sort of!

    One of the achievements I managed in January was to read 8 books! There are a lot of bloggers for which 8 books in a month is standard, if even a low number for them, but for me, it was a pretty big deal! I averaged finishing about two books a week, which made me feel really good. I found that I was generally in a more creative place and attitude the more consistently I read, so I’m hoping to keep up with this pace throughout the year. Fingers crossed!

    Now, onto the reviews!

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