Today is Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, also known as Samhain to those who follow these sorts of things. Traditionally, October 31/November 1 marks the end of the harvest season and the start of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year.
It is a time of transitions. We are halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.
Transitions mark the process of changing from one state or condition to another, apropos for this time of year and also for me personally as we ready ourselves for the transition to a new home. Personal transitions aren’t always easy because they upset the status quo. Fictional transitions can be difficult too, but they’re incredibly necessary. Transitions hold scenes together, weaving the bits and pieces of your narrative into a cohesive whole, and giving an important sense of completeness to your story.
Transitional scenes can be used to break tension, provide description, to slow the pace or advance time, to change location or even to change viewpoint characters. In the same way a falling leaf can signal the start of a transition to fall, certain words and phrases can signal to the reader that there’s a transition coming. Consider these phrases:
A week later
On the first sunny day
When the snow finally came
Labor began in the wee hours
After the diagnosis
Spring was late that year
It took weeks but
Transitions. Often overlooked, frequently feared but incredibly necessary if we (and our stories) are to move forward.
Happy Samhain everyone!