Bridges and Transitions

Bridges and Transitions.
Bridges and Transitions.

When writing my first novel (a learning experience), it bothered me that it did not sound polished. I believe in reading your writing aloud, and mine did not sound professional. The other members of my writing group agreed, but had no clarity as to what was missing, in their writing as well as in mine. In 2004 my question was finally answered by the publication of Write Away, by mystery writer Elizabeth George.

My writing lacked bridges and transitions. Transitions, those are about time, location, simultaneous actions—I thought I had that covered. No, it turns out I actually needed to transition from paragraph to paragraph, and she explained how.

First, each paragraph must have unity. Every sentence should amplify the sentence that precedes it or should refer to the paragraph’s implied topic in some way. If neither, get rid of the sentence for it doesn’t belong there and will impede the story’s flow.

Now that you have cohesive paragraphs, string them together by making sure the last sentence in a paragraph is directly related to the first sentence of the next paragraph, or acts as a prompt that sets up the next paragraph.

Example as to how this works: (from a prologue)  Corrections in Caps, I’m not yelling.

I write screenplays, and I live at McDonalds. It’s temporary, just until some money I’m owed shows up. Three weeks, tops.           I WRITE SCREENPLAYS AND I AM HOMELESS. …TOPS. MEANTIME, I LIVE AT MCDONALDS.

Next to a busy freeway and two miles from Magic Mountain, McDonalds is open all night. Often there are four buses in its lot, and a line of teens out the door until midnight. A large transient population, which the staff can’t begin to know. And every night, writers show up.

TURNS OUT this restaurant has three colleges nearby, and I stay invisible, keep my mouth shut, and eavesdrop on the writing groups as they argue pov, formatting, plot, and which actor will beg to star in their books and screenplays when completed.

They sound like me three years ago. I moved to Los Angeles just out of college, with three spec scripts and that song about it never raining in California memorized.

Now I’m scrounging for coins, even at McDonalds you have to order something, and I’ve met lots of people whose names I can’t remember, and I’ve hooked up with another screenwriter, Don Jessup. We’re good, just not yet found. ON RADAR..

And now, someone wants us dead.



Write on,