jennifer donnelly

Scene Transitions

An important part of structuring your story in any format is the transition between scenes. When not handled properly, time and/or location jumps in a narrative can become disorientating and confusing, making it harder for the audience to keep up with the action. There are three important things to focus on when transitioning between scenes: where the first scene ends, where the second scene begins, and how to connect the two.

It’s important that each scene have closure. When you leave a scene, you need to know that the goal of that scene was reached. If you leave the scene too early, before you receive that closure, your audience will be left hanging, feeling unsatisfied and off balance. You need to ‘cut away’ when the scene comes to its natural end, when everything is understood and the audience is ready to move onto the next idea. If you leave the scene too late, it drags your story, and makes it feel like the scene is longer than it is.

As with the end of a scene, the beginning of a new scene must feel natural. If you have to backtrack immediately after starting your scene in order to explain whats going on, then it means you’re not starting at the beginning of the scene. You can sometimes get away with doing this, if the reflection is placed naturally in the writing, but you shouldn’t try and push your luck. If all of your scenes start with an immediate backpedal to explain where everyone is, how they got there, and when it takes place, then you need to go back and fix some things.

Information about the change in time and location are important to include. If you didn’t, then it would be impossible for the audience to tell if, when or how these changes occurred. The most widely accepted way of transitioning between scenes is to detail the things done by the characters to go from scene A to scene B. They can do so by showing the transition between locations (“They walked the distance to the theatre, laughing the whole way”), points in time (“hours passed as she sat reading in her favorite chair”), or combinations of the two (“they drove for days, the grassy hillsides of home growing into a looming mountain range”). The information in the transition must do everything to set up the new scene that’s starting.

I am going to use a segment from “These Shallow Graves” by Jennifer Donnelly as an example of what not to do when transitioning between scenes. In chapter thirty-four, a scene is ending where the protagonist and her love interest meet secretly during a ball and make a plan for her to sneak out later that evening. The scene ends on an angsty moment as they both watch her almost arranged fiance dancing with the competitor for his affections. Chapter thirty-five immediately begins with the two of them having met up and halfway to their destination. It is then explained how the protagonist had left the party early, snuck out, and made it to the meeting point.

Feels kinda jenky huh? Here’s how we could smooth this out.

Their plan for meeting up that evening involves the protagonist telling her uncle (who an attendee) that she is feeling faint and using that as an excuse to leave the ball early. This would make more sense as a place to end the scene as it signals the beginning of the transition between locations. When she sneaks out the house is a good place to officially begin the next scene, as it signals another change in locations. Because the time spent at the protagonist’s home is not important to the overall story (her waiting for everyone to fall asleep) this could serve as the transition between the scene of the first and the scene of the second meetings. The cab ride from her house to the meeting place is also its own small transition, and is a good place to reflect on past information without interfering with anything else going on (such as dialogue and bonding between love interests).

Remember! All of the important things to keep in mind when writing scene transitions are:
Know where to end a scene.
Know where to begin a scene.
Know how to connect the scenes.

Evermore (Reprise) NEW LYRICS

I wanted to hear a reprise but didn’t get one, so I wrote my own.

THIS IS THE UPDATED VERSION WITH THE SAME NUMBER OF STANZAS AS THE ORIGINAL

READ IT ON AO3 HERE (hit me with a kudos if you liked it! depending on the reception, I might do a reprise for Days in the Sun…)

*      *      *

I was the one who lost it all

I thought that it had been too late

I never dreamed she would come back into my life

And free me from that state


Too long I only felt the pain

For years all I knew was despair

Then she reached deep into my melancholy heart

And answered my soul’s prayer


Now I know she’ll never leave me

Even at the end of days

She will still inspire me,

Stay beside me,

Love me, come what may

And with every passing hour

I can’t help but love her more

I smile to think she walked back in

To be with me for evermore


My life has suddenly begun

I see the dawning of the light

When I lost all hope of living days in the sun

Her love has banished night


Now I know she’ll never leave me

Something fate cannot undo

I promise to love her

Be there for her

Never say adieu

And with every passing hour

I can’t help but love her more


I should have known that love would win

And as these sunny days begin

I’ll think of how she walked back in

To be with me for evermore

*       *      *

Bonus points if you can spot the references! (Four to two other songs in BatB AND a reference to the new BatB book Lost In A Book)

4

Books with Sirens or Mermaids

Find more books selections here.

Of Poseidon - By: Anna Banks 

The Siren - By: Kiera Cass

Forgive My Fins - By: Tera Lynn Childs

Deep Blue - By: Jennifer Donnelly

Ripple - By: Mandy Hubbard

Sirena - By: Donna Jo Napoli

Fathomless - By: Jackson Pearce

Mermaid - By: Carolyn Turgeon

Midnight Pearls - By: Debbie Viguie

3

Madame du Barry, an old courtesan, sits beside me and clasps my hand in hers. I remember her death. All of Paris does. She screamed her head off. Quite literally. Please, she wheedles now, think of apricots, the scent of roses, the pricking of champagne bubbles on the tongue.

The dead are bigger thieves than I ever was. They steal the most precious things from me. The feel of silk. The sound of rain pattering on the cobbles. The smell of snow on the wind. They take these things and leave me with the taste of dirt and ashes.

I think not of apricots, but of guillotines and graves.

She frowns. For those I do not need your help, she says, and flounces off.

–Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution

2

The first two books in the Waterfire Saga:

I originally picked up this series because just look at how gorgeous those covers are! And they’re about mermaids. I honestly don’t think I’ve read enough mermaids book. I don’t know why though because they’re amazing. Underwater worlds, gorgeous tails, magical powers, sea creatures and a well thought out storyline. 

The storyline in these books is so in depth. Jennifer Donnelly has planned her books out so well, leaving you with cliffhangers just at the right time. She keeps you captivated when your attention is needed most. I did find that this book did have some slow parts. There were chapters that felt like they were only there to fill a blank space. I did however find that when there was action, it was written so well that I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

The books are so descriptive and it gives you a clear image of the world under the sea. The characters, where there are plenty of, stand out against each other and although its confusing at first to remember who is who, the do form into individual people throughout the books.

All in all, I rate both of these books 4/5.