When to Transition in a Novel


A friend of mine who is a talented writer was complaining to me yesterday about the difficulties of scene transitions. She is struggling to determine what she should and should not include in the current in progress draft of her novel. I feel her pain, but also know plenty of experienced writers have trouble in the same department.

The long and short of it is: in the case of most novels, you can’t detail out every waking second.

I once read somewhere that in many movies, the camera is idle on a subject or angle for only about three seconds at a time in order to hold the audience’s attention.

In fact, many filming tips may be relevant to writing; on this website, the teacher instructs film editing students to:

Cut away from the scene the moment the visual statement is made.

People are super shitty at paying attention…

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7 thoughts on “When to Transition in a Novel

  1. Really good advice. I recently worked with a screen writer. He wanted to take a piece of the Lawman and do something with it. One thing he explained was that filming is all about money. And that’s why if it doesn’t move the story forward, it’s not shown in a movie. If seeing the person getting dressed to go to work doesn’t move the story forward, then all we need to see is the person show up at work. We already fill in some parts of the story (obviously this person woke up this morning, they got dressed, and they drove to work).

    So his advice, unless it impacts the story, don’t show it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My gawd, this advise just made my day! I have been in a slump about a certain chapter in my novel of whether or not I should continue describing such scene… this just helped me solve my problem! 🙂 Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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