Transitions? Forget about them

The obsession with transition negates a basic truth about writing, a magical truth. You can get anywhere from anywhere, always and almost instantly. – Verlyn Klinkenborg

We’ve all been there: cold moon, dark sky, watching our minds disappear as we try to figure out how to get our character from point A to B. She’s just found the clue hidden in her safety deposit box in Seattle, and now she has to fly to Cairo to search a secret tomb.

Shoot, that’s far, how do we get her there? we think. Let’s see, she has to buy a ticket, she has to pack, she has to get to the airport on time, she has to find her seat, she has to get through the terrible in-flight meal, she has to fall asleep, she had to get off the plane, she has to get through customs–NO, STOP.

You are a writer. You can do anything. So just go to where the next thing of importance happens, without all the fuss of getting there. I promise you, the reader won’t mind.

So how do we get her across the world in the span of a sentence? Try: “24 hours later, jet-lagged and sweating, Jane stepped off the plane into the dry heat of the Cairo streets.” Or, if you want to get even more to the point: “One terribly long flight, three taxi rides, and two hours of wandering unfamiliar streets later, Jane approached the home of her secret contact, and knocked tentatively on the door…” And there, done, now you can move on with your story, minus all the boring stressful aspects of travel.

If only we could move about so easily in real life!

The same goes for movement in time, or between character viewpoints–just go to where you want to be–the reader will keep up just fine.


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