Transitions: Filling in the Time Line
I’m at a tricky place in my revision where I need a good transition. There’s a time gap. Certain events need to take place in late October and November, but I’m at about the 4th of July on the story’s time line. I need to get on with the story quickly, but it’s difficult. As it’s set up, my MC is starting middle school this fall, and that should be a big event in his life. But it’s NOT a major event, necessarily, in the story as currently told.
Yes, this is about a character, so he can be distracted for a while by this new school, but I don’t want to lose track of the events in October/November.
Create a mini-subplot that spans a couple chapters. I could think of July-October as a couple chapters of a mini-subplot. Adventure novels often do when there’s a chase sequence that spans several chapters. When the chase ends (someone is caught or someone gets away), the story returns to the main story.
Bridging events. I could think of this as needing bridging conflict, events that cause my character trouble that relates more or less to the main conflict. In this case, the events wouldn’t necessarily be a complete subplot. It could include scenes from several subplots, or it could be a small digression that shows backstory,or puts my character in a new light.
I don’t want filler material here, though. Either way, everything needs to be necessary to the story. That’s the trick! Finding bridging conflict or a mini-subplot to fill the time, but making sure it’s necessary to the story. Again, it won’t do, just to have a summary paragraph getting him to October. Going into middle school is simply too big a life event to summarize away.
Any other ways you handle major transitions or fill in gaps in your timelines?
2 responses to “Transitions”
I agree – definitely no filler here. I prefer bridging events. I have something happen to another character who appeared earlier, an event that affects the MC. Of course, when I do this, I have to go back to that other character and slip in some more details, to prepare for that event.
In my current book, I have a war going on, so it’s relatively easy to add good, necessary chapters.
The dates in our stories are certainly frustrating at times, all the same, especially if you’re trying to use real life events.
Les Edgerton in HOOKED describes a screen writing technique called the “jump cut.” He says modern day readers have been trained by watching movies to readily accept a jump to a new scene without a prolonged transition. Is it possible to just jump to your October scene and begin it with one grounding but dramatic (or humorous) sentence about the first month of middle school?