Smooth transitions can help your story flow

Do you feel you need to account for every moment and movement in a scene? I’ve found a lot of new writers do.

But look at this extract from Emily Bitto’s beautiful novel The Strays. The young protagonist has just moved back into her parents’ house after a traumatic experience. She wakes after a deep sleep:

I saw that my suitcase had been brought into my room, and I got up, my head throbbing, and changed my clothes.

My mother was in the kitchen.

‘You slept a long time. You must have needed it.’

What an elegant transition. The writer doesn’t need to tell us that she goes into the kitchen after she dresses, it’s clear – and cleaner – without it.

Here’s the rest of the scene:

‘Where is everyone?’

‘Gone to church.’

‘What time is it?’

‘Almost eleven. Are you hungry?’

I nodded and found myself abruptly in my new life.

Wonderful.

In early drafts it’s likely that you will include more detail than is needed. This is perfectly understandable; you are still working out what’s going on and what’s important. But as you review your work, keep an eye out for where you can pare back information to allow the key elements to shine, and to let the story flow.

Good luck intrepid writer, and enjoy the adventure.

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