How To Handle Scene Transitions With Susanne Hampton

We have author Susanne Hampton visiting with this awesome post on Scene Transitions.

Connect with Susanne around the web:




Twitter   @Susannepan


 

Transitions … moving between chapters.

Moving between chapters is a critical part of writing.  If the ending of a chapter is bland and a non-event, then you risk the reader putting down your book.   If there is no drive for her to know what will happen, she won’t bother reading any further. She will pull away and lose interest and there is the even bigger risk that she may choose to never pick it up again. It is crucial at the end of a chapter to make it difficult, almost impossible, for her to close the book.  You want her desire to know what will happen to the hero and heroine to force her tired eyes to stay open for just a few more pages.

As I write the end of a chapter I want the reader to have a question and a need to know where the story will lead.  Sometimes I let her in on one character’s back-story and POV that changes the situation and the stakes completely.  This ensures that the reader will want to continue as she knows something that either the hero or heroine doesn’t yet know.  This gives the reader an added investment in the outcome.

In Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart the hero Matthew Harrison had been emotionally devastated by the actions of his former fiancé a few years before.  He shut down completely to the idea of love but now is struggling with his developing feelings for the heroine, Beth.  She is confused by the mixed messages he is sending but finally after he drives her home from a medical dinner, she literally falls into his arms after tripping and he cannot control his desire.  Forgetting everything other than his need to have her, he doesn’t care who sees them as he loosens her hair from the elegant clasp and kisses her passionately.  Then headlights of an approaching car bring him back to the reality of what they are doing and he pulls away and apologises. Beth is more confused than ever and runs inside her house.

Beth rested back against the closed door as she dropped her clutch purse on the hallstand. She kicked her shoes off. The house was gently lit by the lamp in her bedroom. She looked in the hallstand mirror and saw her hair was loose around her shoulders and her lipstick was smudged around her still quivering mouth. What just happened?  She wasn’t sure.

The reader has an insight into the hero’s torment and now knows his feelings for the heroine are simmering close to the surface. I hope this knowledge urges the reader to find out how the heroine will uncover his secret and if they can find love together.  I begin the next chapter back in the bustling hospital A & E department the following day so the mood shifts gears and the pace picks up with the awkwardness of the ‘morning after’ when nothing happened but feelings were revealed.

In my second book, Back in her Husband’s Arms, the heroine had walked out of her marriage to the hero three years earlier even though they were both still very much in love.  Their opposing viewpoints on an important issue hadn’t been discussed during their whirlwind courtship with each just assuming they would agree and want the same thing but unfortunately it was a deal-breaker for both.  Fate forces them to work together for what look like being one very uncomfortable month as their love for each other has not been diminished by time apart but their divorce is immanent.  I end chapter four with my alpha-male hero taking control and leaving the reader wondering how the heroine will respond and where it will lead.

She heard his footsteps draw nearer and she looked up to find him framed in the doorway. His face was a little drawn but still unbelievably handsome. His jaw was darkened by the first signs of fine stubble.

‘I’m here to take you home.’

‘That’s very sweet of you,’ Sara remarked. ‘But I’ve already booked a taxi to my hotel.’

‘Tom crossed the room in silence. His dark eyes didn’t start from her face for a moment. ‘I wasn’t talking about the hotel, Sara. I’m taking you to our home.’

This statement coupled with the chemistry they have been fighting will entice the reader to turn another page to find out what the hero is suggesting and how far he will push for what the reader assumes he wants. The chapter ends with the sexual tension raised.

However a chapter ends, the full stop needs to translate to a question mark in the mind of the reader.  The desire to know more, experience just one more page of the story and find out what will happen needs to override the need to close the book.  The writer must ensure the reader can’t relax and put the book down until she discovers what happens on the next page of the journey.

*For further information about chapter endings I would suggest reading-  ‘Leave ‘em wanting more:  Effective Chapter Endings (Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Lesley Wainger, Executive Editor Harlequin Books.)

Happy Endings!

Susanne Hampton

Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart -Mills & Boon Medical Romance March 2014

Back in Her Husband’s Arms -Mills & Boon Medical Romance June 2014

Falling for Doctor December - Mills & Boon Medical Romance December 2014

 

 

12 comments:

  1. Great tips - and an area I need to work on!!! Thanks :)

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    1. Thanks Jemi, I'm so pleased you found it helpful. My first blog on writing so glad to get your positive feedback. :)

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  2. Great stuff! This isn't something I see written about very often. Thanks for posting!!

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    1. Thanks Liz, I read so many books on the craft of writing over the years and I now when I am writing my books so much comes back and makes sense. :)

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  3. There is definitely an art to transitioning from one scene to the next. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie, I agree there are many ways to move from scene to scene and chapter to chapter and I believe it becomes your style of writing (and reading) that helps you to decide. :)

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  4. What great advice! I agree that the end of the chapter is the perfect spot for questions and events that will keep the reader turning the pages. What an excellent post.

    Wishing Susanne much success!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thank you so much Jess. My first about writing so quite nervous posting but very happy to get the great feedback! :)

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  5. Good advice. As a fan of the ol' serials, I favor the cliffhanger for scenes and chapter transitions.

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    1. Hi Milo, I agree a good cliffhanger is definitely a page turner but it can become emotionally draining if it's every chapter/scene and the reader might be exhausted by the time she reaches the happily ever after! But a well placed cliffhanger is great. :)

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  6. Great post. I always worry about my transitions. I have good people on my side who help me with them in the form of CP's.

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    1. Thanks Medeia. Transitions can be difficult but I believe they get progressively easier the more you write. It's wonderful if you have guidance along the way. Happy writing! :)

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