poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘transition

writing a novel – segues

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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.




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


with 16 comments

Now, as I am finishing my manuscript of poetry on local foods, I am aware of the change this means for me.  I know there will be a new project but I am not yet certain what it will be.  I have many things to choose from… perhaps I’ll begin a new series of poems… perhaps I’ll write some non-fiction on an environmental theme… perhaps I’ll finish some of the paintings I have begun.

Although I like best to write, I find creative activities substitute for one another.  For example, when I am not writing for an extended period of time, I am often embedded in some other creative work such as painting or sewing.  Now, as I finish my manuscript, I have begun to weave on my loom.  It gives me thinking time as I approach the end of my writing project, to work through the final steps in my mind.  It also creates some certainty for me and provides a transition to my next project.

To me, weaving exemplifies the lure of creative endeavor.  The producing requires knowledge and skill, and builds confidence.  The process is relaxing and time is made available for thought and concentration.  The threads and fabrics are luxurious to touch and the colors are bright and joyful.  When I am finished a project, I am so proud of the resulting textile, I want to show the world.

My loom is a simple floor loom, 24 inches wide.  I bought it at a country auction, about 15 years ago.  My sister and I were among the stragglers at the auction, trying to outlast a heavy rain.  In the corner, we saw a bundle of varnished wood and some metal parts.  “I think that’s a loom,” whispered my savvy sister.  When the item came up for bid, there were few left in the audience, and no one knew just what ‘it’ was.  I can’t remember what I paid for it, but I know it was a bargain.

My loom and I have not been steady company.  It takes forever to install the warp (I began to install my current warp in May!), and weaving is hard on my back.  But the fabrics we have made together, my loom and I, are beautiful and comfortable and good for the soul.



yellow line


the road is fabric

weave of asphalt

ditch and yellow line

warp of guard rail

fence and heddle


trees in plantations

lines on the hayfield

hip and curve of the earth

weft as she turns in her sleep


shuttle, piloted

through landscape

and watershed

textile in folds

texture the yearn of the loom


faults in the granite

potholes in pavement

rifts in the fabric

where weavers might falter

revisit the work

of earlier times


learn the lessons

taught by the loom –

choose the weft wisely

balance the color, the texture

maintain the tension

fix mistakes as you go


when your back hurts,



listen to the whisper

of weave

of yellow line



Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

September 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

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