1. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    and then...next...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by SethLoki, Jun 8, 2016.

    ...moments later...following that...what ensued was


    I'm doing a pacy piece—in two senses: I have to have it submitted by Saturday and the action's running at a fair old clip. I keep hitting a barrier, over which I hurdle and leave one of these __________ < a connective word or phrase to add later that's most often me struggling to avoid the repetition of 'and then'.

    Anyone had this before? I'm hampered, fretting; my mental thesaurus is exhaustus...

    I'm wanting alternatives to add to the above and also a technique that'll maybe have me knock the barrier away rather than hurdle it.
     
  2. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    He came to the keyboard, breath coming hard. What to write? How to answer? Fingers brushed keys, waiting for thoughts to form. Inspiration struck. Nerves fired, fingers twitched, words began to flow.

    Choppy, choppy, choppy. I bet you can do it better than me.

    And then... Who needs and then?
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the assumption is that stories are told in a progressive chronological manner. The "and then" is pretty much implied. So really you're using the words as a mini-scene break, probably? A transition showing that something new is being added?

    So you might write:

    The car in front of us shuddered, then began to--to melt? There was no heat, not that I could feel from a couple feet away, but the car, our only protection in that barren landscape, was somehow becoming liquid. "Another secret weapon?" I yelled at Maureen.

    She stared back at me, eyes wide. I couldn't hear her voice over the insistent humming of the drones, but I read her lips. "We're screwed."

    And then the enemy appeared over the slight rise to the east, rolling toward us on its ridiculously small wheels, its shrill whining cutting through the drones' hum.
    You could just leave the "and then" off entirely. "The enemy appeared over the slight rise to the east..." ETA: I originally wrote the sentence without "over the slight rise to the east" and it felt choppy and unpleasant. But to my ear/eye, at least, adding that one detail, or possibly those few syllables, was enough to make the sentence read smoothly. So that's possibly a good example of what I'm talking about below:

    You could try to add some other bit of information, or some other temporal detail? Something like:

    We both turned to look at the remains of the car, now just a pool of grey on the stones. It was almost a relief when the enemy appeared over the slight rise to the east...

    or
    We turned to run, desperately seeking some alternate cover, but we both knew there was nothing to find. The enemy appeared over the slight rise to the east...

    or
    The shrill whine of the approaching enemy jolted us back into action. It appeared over the slight rise to the east...

    etc.​

    In other words, I agree with @Wayjor Frippery , or at least I think I do, depending on the exact point of that post... you can almost always leave "and then" out. But for smooth transitions and/or pleasing rhythm, you may want to add something else to show that the situation is changing.
     
  4. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Thanks @Wayjor Frippery I wouldn't take your bet. A v. good off-cuffed fist of some coming to the boil climactic writing! I got from the 'and then' (unusually); a slowing of pace over how I ordinarily see it as a way of bouncing along. A tool for the tool box. * nods

    Thank you for the suggestions @BayView I do think the 'and then' has its place albeit for the rarest of occasions. The point of my post was to fill the memory bank with ways to transition in order to keep pace in the story and not drop a cleaver in too much. < Which works very well as Wayjor's just demoed with his (cough Freudian :-D) piece. Paradoxically, my writing flow is chopped presently whenever I approach such junctures. Seeing how you've tackled it is quite enlightening. I could stretch away from condensed phrases such as 'what followed' or 'soon after' and put in a bit more of a descriptive line and not lose my stride.
     
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