April 23, 2012

Tripping over Transitions = T: Blogging from A to Z

As a mother, I know a lot about transitions. But knowing and mastering are two completely different things. Most kids don't like transition and they really don't like quick, unexpected changes. You can't move too quickly from play to work or homework to activities. Rushing them only makes the situation more volatile. But it's hard to space things out in a way that everyone flows gracefully from one thing to another.

I feel the same way when I'm reading. I don't like an abrupt and unexplained change in story, focus, or voice without any explanation.  

A good book should be an interesting journey down a scenic, winding path--not a straight drop off a cliff. Some tense and surprising story changes can add to drama, but it has to be expertly done to not be jarring. I don't mind a maze, as long as I'm never left so frustrated that giving up seems easier than finishing.

Abrupt story changes leave the reader scratching his/her head. An author should give the reader as few excuses as possible to pull away from the story. If a reader's mind starts to wander, they disengage. Almost every 5-star review talks about not being able to put a book down. These types of books have seamless transitions.

Flashbacks and changing narrators make for tricky transitions. When it's done well, the story threads weave together into a beautiful tapestry. When it's not, it's a first time knitter's three-armed sweater.

How much stumbling can you take before you put a book down? What story elements do you feel are the trickiest transitions?


Anonymous said...

I've scratched my head at some books. The transitions are so jarring that I have no idea what's going on. I have to quit reading.

Jaleh D said...

Transitions are a pain, but they are vital. When the right one falls into place, it really hooks well from one scene to another or one time frame to another.

(And I'm sort of doing this round, but I got off track and haven't posted anything in awhile. Spring break threw me off. I really gotta get back in the game. Thanks for stopping by.)

Tia Bach said...

Medeia, If I'm scratching my head, I'm probably about to put it down. Not good. And I hate to quit reading, really I do.

Jaleh, So vital, I agree.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, ladies!

Fairview said...

Three-armed sweater? lol. Great post. Yeah, totally agree. I'm reading for pleasure so if I have to tax my brain to figure out what's going on then I'm putting the book down.

Tia Bach said...

Fairview, Glad someone appreciated my three-armed sweater comment. I worked for awhile on that one. ;-)