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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