This is a concept I’ve sat on for months, mentioning it here or there when I needed it. A couple times, I’ve started to write a post about it, but stopped. It seemed too elementary, too high school essay writing class. Transitions are technical, boring– useful, but the world is fully survivable without them. But recently, I’ve begun paying attention once again to transitions. Books, movies, anything with a scene break. Transitions make a story run smoothly.
Transitions are fairly self-explanatory. They bridge from one thing to another. When something is running smoothly, such as paragraphs in a scene, no transitions are necessary. But the moment something breaks, such as a scene, a chapter, or a viewpoint, a transition either exists to smooth it over, or doesn’t.
A chapter ends with a plot twist to make the reader want to keep reading. A transition makes it easy to keep reading. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on January 12, 2015
I realized something a few days ago: whatever statement ends a chapter, that statement is a promise.
It’s not an exact rule, but in modern literature, the end of a chapter is interpreted as a promise (which I have explained here). I’ve written many times about the importance of ending chapters with plot twists, but not all chapters have to end with plot twists– they end with promises. You can choose what those promises are. (Note: not all promises made in a book are at the ends of chapters. You can make promises elsewhere as well.)
Think about it. A chapter ends with the nation of bubble gum attacking. If, in the next chapter, there was no mention of the bubble gum nation, nor was there any explanation about the freak attack, you wouldn’t be satisfied. The chapter cut you off from the action, intentionally– what happened when the bubble gum nation attacked? These are the same symptoms experienced when a promise is thrown aside without being fulfilled. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on March 23, 2014
Heists are weird, but they’re crazy fun. Ocean’s Eleven, Inception, and Mistborn are some of my favorite stories. A team of specialists in different fields, all working for something which could be construed illegal, but for genuine purposes that we can’t ignore? It’s delicious. That is, until you try to figure out what makes it tick.
You can’t map a heist’s structure according to conventional ideas like the Hollywood Formula. They have important parts at each important point, but those parts have nothing to do with what the Formula says they should. The main character’s choice is skewed. The team is always acting, always answering questions, always dedicated— where’s the midpoint? And they always seem to be in control, so while the low point seems to be present, it’s false because nothing ever went wrong— everything is still going according to plan. It’s maddening to know a structure that works for so many stories, but is at once followed and ignored by capers. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 21, 2013
I don’t know whether I’ve posted on this before, but I don’t mind posting on it again– it’s just as relevant now as previously. I have found that when I’m excited about something, I do it much more efficiently and quickly than when I’m bored.
Obviously, this applies to just about everything one does, but I’ll just talk about writing for now.
For some odd reason, a few days ago, I was having a little trouble writing a few scenes of the Phil Phorce. They were going slowly and I found myself getting easily distracted by piddling things like, you know, chores and silly TV shows. It wasn’t that I wanted to do those other things– I just wasn’t interested in the scene I was supposed to be writing.
It’s obvious what comes next. The only solution to this problem is to get interested. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on June 13, 2013
Plot twists are great. / Plot twists are fun. / There’s nothing quite like / good guys facing a gun.
Yes, that was an attempt at a rhyme, but bear with me. To sum up the above quatrain, plot twists are great tools because they surprise the reader and enforce the little voice at the back of the hero’s head that says he won’t succeed. The character is going downstairs to get a sandwich and boom! the stairs just fell apart; all he has is a rope. He reaches the ground floor and boom! there are werewolves guarding the kitchen. He fights his way past the werewolves to make his sandwich and boom! he’s run out of mayonnaise. These little things pump up the suspense while creating conflict for the character to fight through.
There is a wrong way to do these, however. Let’s say our character from the above example has just reached the ground floor by rope. Bill felt good about himself and his plan to get a sandwich, which was rather odd considering the werewolf that had just bitten off his leg. Does this sound shocking? Does it sound thrilling? Does it make you exclaim, “Oh, my, how could Bill ever get out of this situation?” (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on September 29, 2012