Scene Transition Tips

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Scene Transition Tips

Scene transitions. Effective scene transitions. Scene transition tips.

A scene transition isn’t a scene itself but is the narration, action, and/or dialogue between two scenes to take readers and characters to a new location, new time, and/or new point of view. A scene transition can also be used to show a character’ frame of mind or change of heart.

Scene transitions can occur within paragraphs or between scenes and/or chapters.
Scenes should flow seamlessly into each other. An effective scene transition provides a bridge smoothly connecting two scenes and moving readers logically from point A to point B.

Why Use Scene Transitions

  • To skip unimportant events or periods of time
  • To slow or speed up pace
  • To break tension
  • To advance time
  • To change location
  • To provide description
  • To change viewpoint character
  • To change or create mood or tone

To be effective, a scene transition must identify time, place, and/or new viewpoint character as soon as possible. This is especially important if any of the three have changed. Establishing a change in mood or tone for a new scene is equally as important.

Tips for Scene Changes

  • Scene transitions can be a few lines to a few paragraphs.
  • Use transitional words/phrases to help provide smooth movement between paragraphs, scenes, chapters, locations, times, ideas, and characters.
  • Scene Change with a New Chapter
    • Readers expect transitions between chapters, so a scene transitions can be done seamlessly at the beginning of a new chapter.
    • There’s no need to write a detailed transition at the start of a new chapter if the previous chapter ended with a teaser of what is to come.
    • If the next chapter takes readers somewhere unexpected, a clear scene transition will be needed at the end of the previous chapter.
    • Transition words or phrases can be used at the start of the new chapter to help identify the scene change.
  • Scene Change within a Chapter
    • Use a visual aid. ### or *** can be centered on a separate line to indicate a scene transition.
    • If the POV is changing, clearly identify the new viewpoint character as soon as possible.
    • DO NOT change POV in the middle of a scene and NEVER within a paragraph. This can confuse readers and the connection readers have to the viewpoint character will be lost.

Tips to Transition Time and/or Place

  • Mention the time, day, or date
  • Name the place
  • Describe the place
  • Describe the event
  • Show the character doing something readers already know the character would be doing at a set time and/or particular place.
  • Use transitional words and/or Phrases that Signal Time
    • Later that day, week, or month
    • The next day
    • Two weeks later
    • After dinner
    • The next time she saw him
  • Use transitional words and/or Phrases that Shift Location
    • Farther down Main Street
    • He traveled to
    • The car moved through traffic
    • When they reached
    • In the library

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1 comment

This is a very timely post and will be very helpful as I work on my first novel for Camp NaNoWriMo! As a reader, I know what a good transition should read like. As a writer, it’s easy to overlook key elements. Thank for this breakdown!