Writing the Story Forward with Transitions
Hello again writers and fellow readers. I write historical romance and I’d love to share some insight into writing a novel. If you’ll be kind enough to read forward, I’d like to discuss transitions necessary to move a story forward.
Have you have read a book that went on and on without an advancement to the story line? I have and I did want to turn the page alright, but only to escape the tedium of hashing the same thing over until it made me yawn. I hope to show examples of what not to do along with something to move the story forward.
One of my favorite authors, now deceased, wrote a book where the hero could never convince the heroine of the reality of the situation. She couldn’t commit to him, or accept him in her life. Although evidence of the truth of his words was all around her, she fought against the reality of being in another world. I wanted to slap her on the back of the head. Harping on that one element was very off-putting. Start with a strong premise and with characters not as blind as those who choose not to see.
On to moving the story forward. While working toward that end, remember the characters can’t be in one place and simply arrive at another location without forward motion. A transition must occur.
The reader must be drawn into the story by a description of the place, smells, noises, and relatable things that happen in everyday life plus wanting to know what happens next. FORWARD MOTION.
An example while traveling: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman
“Be careful and have a safe journey. I’ll wave you away in the morning.” Adron kissed her and with a pat, sent her out the door.
The next morning, Adron appeared on the steps as Horace, a big, burly dark complexioned man with black hair and eyes, pulled the coach round to the front entrance. He dismounted and scanned the sky. “Weather appears nasty, Milord.”
Laurel rushed down the stairs. “Please! I must go to my aunt.”
In a slight upward nod with his chin, Adron acknowledged her statement. “The weather does appear dubious but if it becomes too inclement, Horace will pull in at the nearest inn or posting house. Have a safe trip and wish your aunt the best health.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, she climbed aboard and took Jamie from Hester’s arms as the maid flopped on the opposite seat. Laurel waved and watched Adron as he returned her wave before mounting the steps.
Delighted to be well on her way, in spite of the threat of a pending downpour, she was even happier to have Jamie with her. With the gentle sway of the coach, Jamie fell asleep and Hester nodded off soon after. As the day advanced, Laurel’s eyelids grew heavy and drifted down as well.
The smell of rain-drenched air brought her round and she glanced out the window. The sky had darkened considerably since the morning and the storm broke with a vengeance. Rain pelted the vehicle making it advisable to put up at the closest inn. Horace drove the coach out on the pike-road, a mile or so north of Han’s Cross on the lookout for the lonely posting house. He pulled to a stop and helped the ladies down.
TRANSITATION INTO THE NEXT SCENE MOVING THE STORY FORWARD
Laurel and her group traipsed into the inn, shaking the moisture from their traveling cloaks. Following the Innkeeper into the interior of the inn, she approved the private parlor off the coffee room with a nod. A cheerful fire chased the dampness from the chamber and chairs were placed before the hearth. She rubbed her hands together before the blaze and pulled Jamie’s chair a little closer before ordering a light repast to accompany the tea.
Hester tripped into the room. “Everything is right and tight as is proper for your ladyship and the little one.” The maid bustled about the room, fluffing pillows and drawing a small table and chairs closer to the fire. “I’ve unpacked, Milady.” At the rap on the door, Hester hurried over to open it. “Here’s your supper now.” She arranged the meal on the table and bobbed her head. “Your ladyship.”
“Thank you, Hester. I’ll be fine. Jamie and I’ll go straight upstairs to our chamber. We’ll both go to bed so don’t concern yourself with us again tonight.”
Hester curtsied and bustled out of the parlor. Before the meal was half consumed the maid briefly knocked and burst into the room, drawing a long breath. “Milady, my chamber has been disturbed, searched and everything is in a scramble. I was that scared so I called, Horace and showed him the mess.”
Another example from: An Enduring Love
Rhys nodded in agreement. I don’t suppose a hearty breakfast would come amiss. He joined Mabree in a matter of minutes and chose buttered bread, an egg, and cheese, along with a strong cup of coffee. The compelling need to return to Rebecca’s side as soon as possible, nagged at him almost as if she called to him, perhaps was still calling.
“I must leave as soon as possible.” He swallowed a few quick bites and drank his coffee. “I’m filled with a sense of urgency.” Rhys wiped his hands on the napkin and pushed back his chair. He couldn’t swallow around the lump in his throat. Clenching his fists, he continued, “Something is amiss.”
“By all means.” Mabree scraped his chair back, calling to the footman. “Have Lord Sudduth’s horse saddled. Be quick about it.”
On his feet now, Rhys nodded. “Much obliged for your assistance. I must be off.”
With a final wave, he rushed out the door and mounted his horse. After he made it to the roadway, he set Gray Boy at a dead run for a few minutes. The steady pounding of hooves seemed to urge him on, as well, until reason prevailed. No sense in killing my mount. Rhys slowed his horse to a canter for a while and finally to a fast walk. He frowned and gulped several shallow breaths. The few bites he’d swallowed seemed lodged in his chest. Something is wrong. I can sense it in my bones.
Rhys allowed his horse to recover before he set Gray Boy at a run again. Rhys alternated his horse’s pace between a dead run, a canter and a fast walk. He growled and railed against the brightly shining sun when the setting didn’t match his mood. All seemed dark to him. What if something horrible had happened to Rebecca? She could be ill or injured in some way. What if her horse had thrown her? His whole body tensed as he envisioned one disaster after another. Henry is there to protect her. No need for panic.
Nevertheless, he kept Gray Boy at a steady pace. His mind churned with possibilities. Danger has stalked close and now both William and Nicoli lay wounded. I must try to find the culprit myself. I’ll leave Henry to watch over Rebecca. She’ll be safe under his watchful eye if I bring her grandfather into the picture. Lord Lethebridge can assign guards for his grounds, and keep his granddaughter close, especially if Weister does visit Belton Hall. With that in mind, he relaxed slightly in the saddle, and allowed his stallion to slow to a rapid walk.
Well into the late afternoon, Rhys again urged Gray Boy to gain his full stride. Before he could urge the horse to a canter, the stallion stumbled and went down, throwing Rhys. His survival instincts kicked in and he curled his arms over his head and rolled. At the same moment, he heard the report of a rifle. Gray Boy’s scream of torment shot through Rhys as he hit the ground. For a stunned moment, a burst of pain sparked, as bright as stars, before his eyes and radiated into every pore of his body. Dust choked him as he shuddered with a dreadful agony in his shoulder. Rhys tried to fight off the shock, but blackness descended upon him with full force.
These were two examples of scenes and transitions always moving the story forward. Characters moved from one place, a physical location, to another. The tale advances, both in traveling, but also in further actions, hopefully making the reader want to read the next page and the next.
I hope I’ve given the reader a brief glimpse into using a transition to move the story forward. To learn more about my writing, visit my website or visit my facebook page.
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Writing the story forward