So I've been writing chapter one. I wrote and wrote and eventually I printed out what I had done up to that point and realised something: It didn't flow. I had the scenes, but it felt choppy. In the course of a couple of thousand words my characters had gone from the market to an alleyway, to a courtyard on the way to the castle, then on to the castle, into town to see an acquaintance, back to the castle and then to the church.


I figured if I cut the scene with the acquaintance, it would flow better, as they could go straight from the castle to the church. I wholly believe it's worked. But through this process, I have learned something about flow.

Sometimes scenes move between areas so quickly that it seems your characters are teleporting. That's how I felt when I read the first draft anyway. But as I worked through it, I took notice of the parts that did seem to flow. What was different?

Well, when it didn't flow, it was because the paragraphs between the two areas were too short. Here is an excerpt from the first version:

"That's it," said Eoin. "You will go to the Passing tonight. I will make sure of it." He left the room and headed back towards the castle's front door. There was only one other person in town who knew Saera had the Aura, and if anyone had the answer to Eoin's questions, it would be him. Old Hanne lived in the common district, across from the house where Eoin and Saera used to live.

Eoin slammed the brass knocker against the door and waited. He smiled and nodded as someone passed him in the street. The door opened.

Soon after, the scene with Old Hanne was removed and they went straight from the castle to the church:

"That's it," said Eoin. "You will go to the Passing tonight. Just come with me." He held out his hand, and Saera hesitated before taking it. They left the room and headed back towards the castle's front door.

Eoin hated the way this society based so much on the appearance of people, and rarely gave a second thought to discover what they might actually be like on the inside. It was society's inability to look deeper than the flesh that put Saera in so much danger. If the light were to come to the surface, people would see only the light. If only they would look deeper they would see an innocent, harmless girl. Still, it was the reason Saera was still safe. No one could see what she had inside her. This curse. This light.

As he stepped out into the street, he felt confined all of a sudden. The creamy-white houses seemed to close in on him from every direction. His heart beat faster. He had to get away from here. He had to get Saera to the Church as soon as possible.

Eoin led Saera through the streets, all the way to the church. Its high, triangular roof cast a shadow upon the streets. There were no windows visible from where Eoin stood. He and Saera ascended the steps, and once they were inside, Eoin closed the door as quickly as he could. It was necessary to ensure that the holy spirits remained within.
The last paragraph continues and describes the inside of the church. As dictated by "To Keep or Not To Keep", I decided to describe the inside of the church because it is quite different to the first image that would come to a reader's mind.
So what can you do to help transitions between areas to flow into one another more easily? Well, there are a few things.
1. Desription: A description of the setting as the character sees it. Perhaps it doesn't have to be literal, as the mind can play tricks on us. You can go into how the character feels about the place. Again, as dictated by "To Keep or Not To Keep", this could be world-building mateial. If it has been said before, don't repeat it.
2. Dialogue: In Real Life, people talk as they walk. Conversations elapse time, so when the characters arrive at their destination after the dialogue has finished, it feels right.
3. Interior Monologue: Technically, the character thinking to himself, written as narration. An example from the above excerpt would be:
Eoin hated the way this society based so much on the appearance of people, and rarely gave a second thought to discover what they might actually be like on the inside.
And so on. Again, this elapses time in the Real World, so it feels right that time would elapse within the text, and thus bridge the gap between one area and another.
So if you ever find a choppy transition between areas and need a fix, just remember the "Three Bridges"*.
*Sounds like a good title for a new fantasy novel.

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atkogirl85 said...

Thanks, Keeping the flow in my writing is my major weakness. It can be very frustrating reading and re-reading what you have written and knowing it just doesn't fit.
The simplicity of dividing the narrative and looking at each area individually is great.
I'm kicking myself that I didn't puzzle that one out for myself. I could have saved my eyes many hours of staring at the computer screen. :)

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

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