Transitions

Rhythm is composed of many things: the interweaving of plot and subplot, the build to set-pieces, the introduction of new elements and surprises and the knotting off of old plot-threads, the amount and placement of exposition, the unifying effect of narrative mirrors and of a strong, distinctive theme, and the nature of the plot itself—complex and intricate, or direct and uncomplicated. It depends on the amount and degree of melodrama, the number and relative complexity of characters, and the balance between scene and summary. Some of these things speed a story up, and some slow it down. A story needs both speed and deliberate build, fireworks and thoughtful times.

To unite all these disparate elements, these different speeds, into one coherent story, you need strong, judicious, and effective transitions.

Scenes that run directly into other scenes can be like beads on a string, isolated and bumpy to follow. Sometimes a span of time needs bridging or a change of viewpoint or setting needs preparing for. Sometimes you need to give an overview to compensate for a series of close-focus events, to show an overall meaning or development.

That's the job of transitions.

They come in all sizes. Transition can be a carefully chosen sentence at the end of a scene and another at the beginning of the next. It can be a lead-in paragraph to a new section. It can be several pages of narrative summary, or even a scene that will develop things your story is going to need soon. A stretch of exposition can also serve transitional purposes.

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