Editing Rant: Transitions

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This rant is based on a book I picked up while free on Kindle, and I am still annoyed at the time it took to read this.

It had absolutely no transitions. The characters suddenly transported from room to room.

Don’t want to deal with the woman being pregnant – put her to sleep with drugs (oh, but for the birth, the medical-center can’t give painkillers?). Skip to the next scene, skip to the next emotional highlight, skip, skip, skip to the end. The whole thing felt like it was on fast forward. 

No transitions and as boring as fast forwarding through a TV show.

While walking through doors, climbing into cars, and traveling between places is also boring, transitions are needed to let the reader know locations changed, time passed, and emotions may have calmed (or ramped up). Keep the transitions short. No need to bury the reader in the mundane, especially if writing a flash or short story, but do include an “end scene” moment and a “begin scene” moment which tie the two scenes together.

In An Infidelity of Hearts (11/24/2019), I have two scene transitions to execute.

The first between the table and the cage – which is done with a combination of the woman announcing she was leaving and draining her drink and a sharp scene break with “***” and she is suddenly at the cage. If I had closed the scene after she laid her cards down, winning the trick, but before she announced she was cashing out, that jump would have been too abrupt. See how it reads when I remove the transitional words between the scenes.

Smiling at the professional, she laid down her cards one-by-one. Nine, ten, page, jack, and finally queen high. All of the same suit, as red as her gown. Nicknamed an Infidelity of Hearts on this planet, as the king had been replaced by the jack and page in the queen’s chambers, spread before her.


The cage transferred her winnings back to the account where the money started, after Carin told them which tips to give to the tables she had worked that night.

The second transition is between leaving the club and waking up captured. It is a mashup transition, serving several purposes: a fast forward over the boring (walking alone and waiting to be jumped), providing backstory (why she actually was there), and entering the next scene (where she woke up).

I could have done the table to cage to walk to waking up without transitions, but that hurky-jerky story would not have been a pleasant read.

WRITING EXERCISE: Look at your present work-in-progress (WIP) and examine one of your transition moments. Why do you need it and what happens when you remove it? Is it a long transition, and does it serve more than one purpose?