Transitions: Make Them Powerful, Not Harsh

152537949Here in the Pacific Northwest, it feels like we’ve gone from summer to winter in the space of a week. One day we were sitting by the pond enjoying 16 degree sunshine and two days later we were inside by the fire as a fierce windstorm brought plummeting temperatures, hail and a power outage. The transition was harsh.

Though the weather has stabilized to more fall-like norms, I’ve been thinking about transitions lately. I’m in the middle of revising a YA novel due out next year. As part of the process, I’m making sure the transitions from scene to scene, location to location, and from one point in time to another, are seamless.  But it occurred to me as I worked that if you want to get technical, novels themselves are one big transition. At least most of them are.

Transition, by definition, is the process or period of changing from one state or condition to another. In my novel, The Art of Getting Stared At, the teen protagonist must come to terms with a disease called alopecia areata and the subsequent loss of all her hair.  In the process, Sloane learns about judgement – the way she judges herself and others – and she changes significantly.  She literally transitions from one state of being (both externally and internally) to another.  While the editor was pleased with the way the story flowed, she felt Sloane’s journey from discovering the disease to accepting it – and accepting a particular truth about her own character – should have one big exclamation point somewhere. In other words, she wanted a recognizable point in the story where the character makes that leap, that transition, to realizing she isn’t who she thought she was.

I do have that. It’s a big, black moment kind of scene, and I quite like it. But since I’m more of a gradual girl myself (I don’t like going from summer to winter in a week) I built up to it. And in the process something was lost. So now I’m back in the story, refining and revising so the transition is seamless but the point of no return is clearly recognizable. I don’t want a harsh transition. I don’t like power outages, plummeting temperatures or hail and my character doesn’t either. I’m trying for powerful instead.

Wish me luck. And please pass the cocoa. It’s cold in here.


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