Tag Archives: novel

How to Transition Smoothly Between Chapters

How to Transition Smoothly Between Chapters I get a lot of questions regarding writing advice. While I’m no expert, I certainly have some opinions that I’m more than happy to share. Recently, I was asked:

“Are there any ‘good’ ways to have smooth transitions between chapters so that the story flows in an understandable way for the reader?”

First we need to understand that there are two different types of transitions that can occur when a chapter ends:

A.) transitioning from one scene to a completely different scene

B.) transitioning from one scene to a continuation of the same scene, but just in the next chapter

Biker through tunnel

In scenario (a) if there are large gaps of time between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, then I usually say something like, “The last 6 months had been rough for Joe. He kept his head down and worked hard…” This is my “establishing shot” so-to-speak. It provides context for the reader and lets them know that the scene has now jumped. The next paragraph after that, I will have Joe doing something and engaging in a new scene.

My book The Art of the Hustle does this quite a bit since I cover 10 years in the book. In one scene, there was so much of a gap (like 4 years), that it was weird to just transition from one chapter to the next so I made a new part. So the book starts out with Part 1 – Chapter 1,2,3,4…. then about halfway, I introduce Part 2 and mention that it has been 4 years later. man walkingIn some cases, it may be more fluid to not have a chapter break, but instead just have a text break. So an example would look like this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

***

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

With this technique, you don’t have to be all that smooth since the separator lets the reader know that you’ve transitioned into a different scene. If the gap in time is not that large, say the character is at work in one chapter, and then at home in the next chapter, I may just say “Joe was exhausted. He sat on the couch as he usually did after his shift and watched sports highlights…” hot air balloon at nightScenario (b) — a continuation of the same scene, but just in the next chapter — is much easier. I actually prefer this ‘cliff-hanger’ technique as much as possible to encourage people to continue reading. TV shows often end this way as well. So if a chapter ends like, “Joe turned around and was shocked by who was standing before him.” I’ll end the chapter there so the reader wants to keep reading to find out who was standing behind Joe.

Then, in the next chapter I would begin by saying something like, “Joe couldn’t believe his eyes as he was now staring at a man he long presumed dead…” So basically you just pick up where you left off. In fact, I often write the scene straight through and then later pick some moment which I feel would make a good cliff-hanger and then end my chapter there.

Some writers have an ‘A’ plot and a ‘B’ plot and they stitch it together like a zipper. So in my above example, you would say something like, “Joe turned around and was shocked by who was standing before him.” End chapter. Then the next chapter would be the ‘B’ plot — a completely different scene altogether.

Then once that chapter ends, you pick up where you left off with the ‘A’ plot. I tend not to do this, but it can add more excitement as the reader now has to read an entire chapter just to get back to where they left off in the story.

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Prodigy Eternal – Chapter One

The highly anticipated sequel to the cult-classic Prodigy will be available in eBook stores soon!

One year has passed since Alexandra Gray became the symbol of hope for society. Sheathed in the undercurrent of Tokyo, Alex has remained out of the public eye, desperately trying to reclaim a piece of her old life, all the while searching for her purpose.

Becoming close with a group of rogue hackers, Alex is offered a chance to escape the burdens of fame and slip back into a life she once knew. But upon placing her trust in the hands of people with ulterior motives, she discovers the misstep could have serious repercussions on the world — consequences far more dire than even her betrayers may realize. Now it is up to Alex to contain the situation and undo the damage that she has inadvertently caused. Standing in her way is an elusive and powerful foe who will stop at nothing to avenge a wrong that has been committed against him.


P2cover

Chapter One

Tokyo — 2119

The constant awe and admiration of staring eyes had become too much for Alex to bear. She had been hiding for the past year, moving from place to place and trying to find purpose. While discovering what the world had to offer beyond the confines of her home in Megalopolis, Alex mainly ended up in population-dense cities since they provided the best cover.

With a proper disguise, she integrated inconspicuously among the people without the risk of being identified. There were a few instances where savvy pedestrians would stare at her face for a little longer than she felt comfortable with. Their curious eyes would study her flawless bone structure and wonder if they had inadvertently stumbled upon the famous and elusive Alexandra Gray. But before they settled on a conclusion, Alex would vanish like an apparition, leaving them with nothing but doubt and a fleeting memory.

Reports of sightings would invariably emerge with people claiming to have had genuine encounters. Tall tales and rumours travelled through close circles of friends and eventually spread out like a virus, infecting the ears of anyone with an interest. With each story and occasional blurry image that was captured, her legend grew stronger. Having one of the most recognizable faces on the planet didn’t make lying low any easier. Even the best disguises were not immune to the diligent observation of those who were on the lookout for her.

Hiding behind large sunglasses and a full head wrap, Alex approached a market in the busy Shinjuku district of the Japanese metropolis. Fully immersed in the orderly chaos, she slinked her way through the crowds of people until she reached a vendor selling frozen fish. Amongst the chatter between customers and merchants, haggling over prices, Alex heard a siren in the background and tensed up. She was not wanted by the authorities, but the discomfort of knowing she had broken several laws with impunity never left her. The sirens faded and the voice of a shouting man flooded her ears.

“Miss, hello, do you want to buy?” the vendor asked.

Alex snapped out of her daze and regained her focus.

“You want to buy fish?” the man asked.

“I’m just looking, thanks,” Alex said politely.

“Next customer, please!” the man shouted.

Everything about Tokyo was unique. It was unlike any other spot she had been, and she felt more like she had landed on another planet than in another city. The customs and behaviour of the people were noticeably different. Despite what she had learned at the Facility, the once touted ‘global super-culture’ was showing signs of divergence. The architecture was similar to her home of Megalopolis, but distinctive at the same time. Tall glass-covered structures stretched up beyond the clouds and out of sight, while colourful lights and floating holograms sparkled across the night sky.

Alex manoeuvered past the fish vendor and squeezed through a barking herd of customers. As she made her way to the subway, a familiar face on a large screen caught her attention. The sound from the news broadcast poured out from concealed speakers and into the crowd, but no one seemed to be paying any attention. Alex stopped and watched, even if it would only be for a few moments.

“Hi, I am Marika Martens for the Global News Network, and we are gearing up for what will be a historic event this weekend. This Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of when our planet was saved by the heroic Alexandra Gray. There have been many rumours and speculation as to Miss Gray’s whereabouts, but one thing is for certain, history will forever remember this young prodigy.

“Joining us live is one of Alex’s closest friends, Milo Rion. Milo, welcome to our program.”

“I’m happy to be here, thank you for having me.”

“Milo, you are one of Alex’s closest friends and have become somewhat of a celebrity yourself. How has your life changed since that fateful day, and how do you intend to celebrate this Saturday?”

“I appreciate some of the spillover attention I’ve received, but that has mostly died down now. I get the odd person recognizing me here or there, but honestly my life hasn’t changed all that much. I’m still picking away at my school requirements with the hopes of graduating soon. As for how I intend to celebrate — I don’t know, I haven’t really given it much thought. I’m just thankful to have had Alex as part of my life for as long as I did. So I suppose more so than other times, this Saturday I will be reflecting back on some of the special moments we’ve shared together.”

“I’m sure you get this question all the time, but I have to ask — where is Alex?”

“You know, I wish I knew, but we haven’t spoken in a long time. I hear the rumours just like everyone else and am left to wonder where she is and what she has been up to.”

“If she is watching this, is there anything you would like to say to her?”

“Alex, if you’re watching, I just want to say that I miss you very much and I hope you are safe.”

A single tear emerged from behind Alex’s glasses and rolled down her cheek. She wiped it away and sniffled.

“We’re now going to play a clip from Alex’s last public appearance, where she addressed millions of adoring fans all over the world.”

I stand before you completely humbled. I didn’t ask for any of this attention and praise, but I am truly honoured you herald me as your saviour. The truth is, I was just one small part of a much larger operation. I could not have done it without my mother, her friends, as well as my two best friends…”

As the footage played, Alex was nowhere in sight, having dispersed into the crowd like a whisper in the wind.

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The Secret Manuscript – Chapter One

Here’s a video I made of me reading chapter one of my new book, The Secret Manuscript, which was published in August of 2014. If you haven’t already purchased a copy, it’s available in every major ebook store. For those who want to follow along at home, here is the text for chapter one.

The Secret Manuscript – Chapter One

Ben pulled out a knife from his back pocket and extracted the blade. Piercing the sharp edge into a corrugated box, he slid the razor between the two flaps that were being held together by a strip of tape. He proceeded to slice off the flaps to prepare yet another box for the floor.

For the most part, Ben kept his head down and worked diligently and unsupervised all morning. He fought the temptation to look at the clock as he knew that would only make time seem to go slower. The only joy of working in the stockroom of a grocery store was that there would be several deliveries throughout the day, giving Ben a chance to be outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, even if it was just from the loading docks. The rest of the day, he was stuck in the chilly stockroom under the dim lighting, contemplating his life choices.

A small radio played soft rock while he worked. Over the tunes, Ben heard a voice shout to him.

“Hey, B.O., I need you in aisle six!” his manager, Chad, demanded.

The secret manuscript book coverBen retracted his knife and put it in his apron before heading onto the sales floor. Chad had a disgusted look on his face as if Ben was the cause of all his problems.

“Somebody dropped a jar of pickles,” Chad said.

“Okay, I’ll get right on it,” Ben replied.

“I’ll be deducting the cost of the pickles from your paycheque.”

“What? You can’t do that.”

“First of all, don’t talk back to me,” Chad said aggressively as he approached Ben in threatening manner. “Second, someone has to pay for those pickles. Pickles aren’t free you know.”

It was the worst logic Ben had ever heard, but he decided to let it go. Unfortunately for him, he needed the job to support his meaningless existence.

“Yes, sir,” he said submissively.

Ben hung his head low and begrudgingly walked to the back to retrieve the usual clean-up supplies. He returned to the sales floor, wheeling a mop and bucket with one hand and carrying a broom and dustpan in the other. The resentful look on his face caught the attention of an attractive girl who was about his age. She must have overheard the discourse between Ben and his manager because she approached him and offered some words of encouragement.

“Don’t worry about him, he’s a jerk,” she said.

“Thanks,” Ben replied. He looked at the woman in awe. In his mind, he quickly made the following deductions — attractive woman in Cold Lake, must be from out of town, must have a boyfriend, probability of getting her… zero. Whatever Ben’s confidence was before he started mopping up pickles in his dorky uniform had now been reduced substantially. The only sensible thing to do was to forget about her and get his work done before he got into any trouble.

As Ben pushed the dirty mop back and forth through the sticky pickle juice, a thousand thoughts ran through his mind. He questioned whether the flack he received from Chad was worth it. Being a stock boy for the local grocery store was not how he envisioned his adult life, but he took solace in the fact he was at least not making minimum wage. For all that the job did not offer, there were a few perks. The main one being the discount he received on all his groceries. Having that reduced his cost of living, making it seem like he was earning more money than he actually was.

It was a task-based job comprised mostly of stocking shelves, handling incoming shipments, and doing the occasional clean up. He could simply come into work, put his head down for a few hours, and not have to deal with people. In fact, he enjoyed the solitude. That way he could get the real work done — creating characters, plotting stories, and developing dialogue. He would store all this information in his head throughout the day, then after his shift, he would go home and write.

However, his one-time dream of being a published author was being crushed with every waking moment. The reality was that he lived in a small town of less than 2,500 people, so being anything other than what he was — a menial worker — was an unlikely prospect.

Upon completing high school in Cold Lake, kids usually did one of three things: move to a bigger city to attend college, move to a bigger city to find work, or stay in town and work some dead-end job. The latter was what Ben had chosen to do — the typical choice of the unaspiring working-class citizen. Nobody really wanted to stay in Cold Lake, Alberta. Those who did slowly withered away leaving behind a hollow legacy of nothingness. Ben did not want that to happen to him. Instead, he wanted to find his purpose, a reason for existing, but from his current standpoint, his future looked bleak.

What made matters worse was the grocery store manager, Chad. He was a few years older than Ben and by this point in his life had worked his way up to a management position. The gross abuse of power was evident in nearly every decision and directive he made. For the unaspiring, having authority over others quickly fostered delusions of grandeur. Those who wielded the minutest of power rationalized their position as having a natural superiority over their subordinates. Chad was no exception. He made everybody’s life there a living hell, especially Ben’s. Ever since Chad was promoted, Ben had been looking for a way out — any way.

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