What I'm reading: Better Late than Never, by Savannah Stuart
Thanks to Lynda for her intriguing post yesterday. Don't forget, she's giving away a copy of one of her books to a commenter. Scroll down and read yesterday's post, leave a comment there, and then come on back. You have until Thursday. Lynda will select a winner, and I'll announce it on Friday.
Last week, I mentioned transitions, and how everything has to flow.
In our house, we have small areas of tile at the entry doors and in front of the two fireplaces. The rest of the flooring is newly installed ¾ inch hardwood. One of the challenges the contractors faced was making sure the transition between tile and wood was smooth, because the new hardwood was thicker than the pre-existing laminate flooring.
In your manuscript, you have to decide how you're going to get from one place to the next. My writing style tends to be write it, then juggle it. The danger is that things will get choppy. I don't want my tile mixed in with the wood.
The contractors dealt with sawing off a bit from the bottom of door jambs and the fireplace surround so the hardwood would fit. Given the layout of the room, at one transition point, they spent a good hour or more getting the last, narrow strip of wood to fit properly.
The bedroom created a different transition challenge, because unlike the living room, we didn't see a need to swap out the existing tile. Those tiles ended up being lower than the new hardwood. The solution here was to install a threshold molding around those tiles, creating a different kind of transition.
Since I write alternating POV scenes, there's a bit of a leapfrog mentality required of the reader. If my characters weren't together in the last scene, then things have happened to character A while we were with character B.
The last sentence of a scene often won't lead into the first of the next. There has to be a way to remind the reader of: first, whose scene this will be, and second, where the previous scene ended. And, if time has passed, there has to be a way to indicate that as well.
In my upcoming NOWHERE TO HIDE, hero Graham Harrigan has a POV scene in chapter one. We've learned he's a cop with a goal of a transfer into a detective position, where he's in competition with another cop, Clarke. That scene ends with the following:
Laughter erupted from the room. The sound of his name, coupled with Clarke's guffaws, eradicated Colleen's image like wind-blown storm clouds. Dammit. It had been five years. He was a damn good cop, and he was going to beat Clarke into CID no matter how many times the arrogant bastard tried to dredge up his past.
He appears again in chapter two, but not as a POV character. His next turn center stage is in chapter four. Here's the opening:
Graham finished filing his reports, surprised to see it was four-thirty. Instead of going home, he drove to Central Ops. Roger Schaeffer in CID might let him poke around a little. The lieutenant seemed to be one of the few who thought Graham had a shot at the CID spot. His recommendation could make the difference.
For this scene, I opened by using Graham's name (who), and also a time reference (when). Also, by showing something only Graham can be aware of (his surprise at the time), we've established it's his POV scene. If there was any doubt, the rest of the paragraph is internal monologue, thoughts only Graham would know.
Another good reason for clear transitions between chapters and scenes is because those tend to be the logical stopping places for readers. If they're not picking up the book until the next night—or later, but we hate to think they could possibly wait that long to continue reading—it helps if they don't feel that they have to back up to get a running start.
How about you? Do you have authors who are experts at making sure you never forget where you are?