nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

writing a novel – segues

with 9 comments


So the poet is writing a novel…

~

Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat, includes an abandoned church

Characters: main character a writer; people from the embedded community; people from the commuter community; the aberrant community

Plot: the story of how a woman tries to preserve an abandoned church with unexpected consequences for herself and for the community

~

I’ve been working on my novel since the beginning of November, and I’ve made significant progress.  I’ve been aiming for about 60,000 words and I now have about 57,000 words.  I would say I have a completed first draft.

first draft done

Now comes the work of editing.  I’ll edit for grammar and spelling errors, of course, but also for content.  I have several sub-plots to contend with, so I have to make sure each of these tells a coherent story and flows through the novel.

One of the main edits I will do is to try to help the reader follow the story easily by making sure the ideas flow easily from one to another.  When I write in draft, I often leap forward in my thinking, the transitions lost somewhere in the synapses of my brain.  In the editing stage, I’ll have to supply these transitions.

So, as I edit, I’ll work paragraph by paragraph to provide a transition or segue between paragraphs.  I learned a lot about this in university when I was working on essays for my history degree.  Professors were always looking for segues to help the arguments flow smoothly.  I got used to starting paragraphs with phrases like: ‘In order to accomplish this…’ or ‘After the king died…’ or ‘Before the final decision to build a new school in the community was made…’.

Segues in a formal essay are fairly easy, since there is usually a progression to arguing a thesis.  In a novel, the segues are more about making sure ideas don’t come in from the blue.  Shifting ideas and themes too quickly will confuse everyone and cause the reader to lose interest.  Segues also help the writer to make sure threads are not dropped and the thoughts of the main character are logical.

~

segue

~

At the risk of terrifying myself, I’ll give you an example of the way I transition from one paragraph to the next.  This particular scene from the novel describes a drive home, after an evening get-together with a friend named Oliver.  I have underlined the segues.  To see the effect of including the segue, just read the paragraphs with and without the underlined parts.

~

… I gave Oliver a quick hug and ran outside, into the wind and rain.    

The storm worsened as I drove home along the Bay.  The rain was brutal, as though I drove through a cosmic car wash.  I needed faster wiper blades and a second pair of eyes.  As though the rain wasn’t hazard enough, the wind blew in frantic gusts and pushed against the side of the Blazer.  I hung on to the wheel with both hands, but the SUV swerved in the narrow road.  I drove even more slowly.  Handfuls of leaves tumbled across the pavement ahead and broken branches reached from the ditches into the roadway.

To cut my driving time in the storm, I took the ferry to Westfield.  As I drove down the ramp and on to the ferry, the operator came to the car window to bellow something at me.  I rolled the window down a crack to hear and the storm tried to crawl into the vehicle with me.

‘Good thing you got here when you did,’ shouted the operator.  ‘I’m shutting down on the other side.  The wind is too high.  Too much water on the deck.’

In the pale wash of the running lights I could see the river sloshing across the metal platform.  Waves crashed against the sides of the ferry, chased by a fine white spray.

In spite of all the water, we made the crossing safely, and I arrived home after midnight, overloaded with adrenaline from trying to see the road, and full of coffee and cake from my dinner with Oliver…

~

When you write, do you try to include transitioning in your work?

~

the draft of these ferries is shallow and in storms the waves slosh over the sides

these ferries run low in the water and in storms the waves slosh over the sides

Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

December 17, 2012 at 8:11 am

9 Responses

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  1. I am also impressed at the # of words you’ve managed so far. Congratulations Jane.
    Thank you for explaining what “segues” are and illustrating it all with this great piece of prose. I can see from the photo how low the ferry lies in the water.

    Like

    dearrosie

    December 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    • Hi. When I am in edit mode, the word count can go up or down. Yesterday I only added 80 words! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      December 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm

  2. I tend to write without worrying about transitions–and then when I read it over if it seems like two paragraphs don’t quite follow one another, I’ll add a transition sentence.

    Like

    Sheryl

    December 18, 2012 at 12:20 am

    • Hi. I do this too. It makes sense not to interrupt the flow of writing when doing the draft. Lots of time for editing at the end! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      December 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

  3. Oh, and Happy Holidays to you!

    Like

    weedimageoftheday

    December 17, 2012 at 10:20 am

  4. Wow! Congratulations! 57,000 words is quite an accomplishment. You must be working very hard!

    Like

    weedimageoftheday

    December 17, 2012 at 10:20 am

    • Hi. No harder than those weeds of yours. The words are easy, it’s the edits that will take the effort. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      December 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

  5. I know just what you mean. Great post.

    Like

    Jane Fritz

    December 17, 2012 at 9:29 am


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