1. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    How Do You Work Continuations?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lilix morgan, Mar 26, 2009.

    I've reached a point in my novel where I need to transit from one day to another by the start of a chapter. Unfortunately, I'm not coming up with anything remotely good enough to start off a chapter.

    So the question of the moment is: how do you transit from one day to another through chapter breaks?
     
  2. traffic101
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    traffic101 Member

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    For me I might start with the person waking up. Or perhaps half way through the day when something interesting happens.

    What do you want to convey? Just play around and see what you get. Also look at how some authors like Dean Koontz does it. He just starts...and it's up to you the reader to put it all together.
     
  3. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I just start the chapter showing something happening, whether it be a battle or the main character eating breakfast. If I had to say that it was the next day, I'd simply say "The next day..." Usually, though, I just don't say whether the next chapter/part of the chapter takes place the next day, the same day, or a hundred days later. It's usually just not important in my stories how many days pass. Of course, not everyone writes the way I do.

    Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. :D
     
  4. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Take a look at the books you love. See how those authors start off their chapters. It'll probably be the MC internalizing something, or dialogue. But basically, just jump right into the thick of things that are happening the next day.
     
  5. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    I'd rather not use "The next day..." because it gives me the feeling of not writing it well. Maybe start with a statement or something? My character hates mornings, so maybe start the chapter with 'I hate mornings.' ?
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, "I hate mornings" could work. But mainly it should be something that would lead into the big events for that chapter. So her thinking to herself how much she hates mornings shouldn't be totally irrelevant with what will be happening in that chapter.
     
  7. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I would still say "The next day..." because it is the next day, and the passage of time isn't nearly as important as what's happening in the next scene, else you wouldn't have skipped it. So why let such a thing slow you down? I wouldn't call it weak writing; I would call it skipping to the important events while letting the reader know that some amount of time has passed. In the simplest way possible.

    Of course, we've already established that we think differently, so I don't think I have much more to add here.
     
  8. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    The idea for the morning aspect came because she wasn't a fan of mornings in chapter one, so chapter four really would just echo that. She was harmed by someone the night before, too, so she'll be bruised as well, and it'll probably hurt her more.

    Unless I don't have her go to work the next day... that would give more time and allow something to build I just thought about.

    Sorry, last sentence was a ramble.
     
  9. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I have always liked using the passage of heavenly bodies to show the passage of time.

    Example: If the story advances to afternoon I would probably indicate the growing shadows or morning would be the setting of the moon.
     
  10. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    Just say something like "a night passed" or "when the next morning came..." or something of the sort, there's no need for anything more detailed.
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is nothing wrong with saying, "The next morning . . ." as long as it leads to something interesting. Someone else also made a good point in saying that you could just right into it. Is it really essential to know that this scene is one day after? If it is, you can find some event of the previous day to reference. That kind of reference is the sort of thing you can easily put in dialogue.
     
  12. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    I know there is nothing wrong with the saying "The next morning" but I'd personally like to stay away from using it. That's all. But using something from the previous passage would be fine, and I'm thinking about working with that.
     
  13. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    I try to avoid "The next morning."

    Its ok to use, just I don't like to use it.
    I like a chapter that starts off sparking your curiosity. An aside work well to me. Like a statement that makes you wonder what the character is doing, where is he/she and why is he/she there, and then goes into details revealing what is happening. Then the rest of the chapter will follow.

    Did that make sense?
     
  14. Eleanora
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    Eleanora New Member

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    I agree that unless it is essential you may not need to state blatantly that it is 'the next day'.

    Personally I've never had a problem starting chapters or ending them. It is the middle that I find difficult :). Hopefully this doesn't sound harsh, but if you are having trouble starting this chapter, perhaps you should look at the way you ended the last chapter. Maybe it isn't finished yet. Every chapter, to me, is like a new story. That part I absolutely love. Look for something that happened at the end of the last chapter that you can refer to.

    For example: Maybe one of your characters got drunk the last chapter. Start the new chapter talking about his hangover. Or, if there was a battle at the end, start with the character cleaning his/her sword, cursing themselves that they let the blood sit all night.

    Hope that helps!
     
  15. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    Yeah. I know what you mean, totally. I actually got the start of my chapter going, so I'm really pleased I got it out of my head and onto paper.

    Really? I usually find the middle to be the easiest part of the whole thing. It's starting the story that usually leaves me at a loss for words, no matter how many chapters I write. But I do know what you mean, and I did refer to the last chapter, so it worked nicely.

    Thanks for all the help guys! I thought about it for a bit, and after skimming the last chapter, I know where it's going. :] It all helped!
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why don't you just go scan a few good books and see how the best writers do it?... you'll soon see how many ways there are to do so...
     
  17. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    You could always put: "The bruises grew darker over the night and were fully noticable by morn." Or something to that extent then. Personally I would prefer not to write "The next morning..." because it seems almost like a stereotypical phrase that would be rather boring for the reader in comparioson to something written poetically to describe the passing of one day to the next. (Not that my above-example is poetic or elegant in any way.)
     
  18. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    As mammamaia says, there are plenty of ways to achieve your objective, and successful authors have already provided examples. I would simply add, that instead of making morning a big deal, allow the time frame to flow naturally through context in the story. For example, everyone knows that sprains, bruises and cuts tend to stiffen up while we sleep. Then, when we awaken and inadvertently stretch or scratch, we get an immediate and often painful reminder of the injury. This kind of experience can be worked into the story to reveal the passage of the night.
     
  19. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    Alright, so this is what I came up with for the start of the next chapter, chapter eight. So far my posted story only goes to chapter two, so don't panic if you've read my story and everything doesn't connect to what you're reading. Lemme know if it's sound, please?

    “You can do this, Lillian. You can do this,” I mumbled as I stood in front of my office door. “Just tell him you’re sorry.”

    The night before had been hell, and that was putting it lightly. I had in a stony silence the entire car ride home, oblivious to Aaron’s comments. My mind raced as everything had clicked into place; the dreams, the vial of blood, even the attack out in the parking lot. It all boiled down to the same girl with the golden wave of hair.

    I cringed at the recollection of the five vampires, each one stunning as they were terrifying. If I had thought before it was just silly coincidence that I was running into the undead more than usual it certainly wasn’t now. My skin crawled at the very memory of my initial dream with the blonde, her fangs sinking into my neck while I sat there, helpless as a newborn child. Reflexively I touched my neck my fingers, feeling for any sign of the puncture marks that would earn me a seat on death row in more ways than one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same for my stomach.

    My fingers played lightly with the handle on my door, wiggling the knob. I knew today was my day off, that I didn’t have to be here, but I felt I owed Ryan that much after yesterday’s scene. That, and I didn’t want him coming inside my house. I sighed, grasping the handle tighter. “He’d better be here today.” The thought of leaving my bed this morning after only two hours of sleep just to please a friend seemed more work than it was worth.

    I pushed open the door, letting it swing full force and thump against the wall. Inside, it looked dreary with the lights out and the lack of sunshine pouring through the only window in the entire room. I took note of how my office might appear to someone else for the first time, mentally wincing. One step in my office could have people leaving in varying states of depression.

    I leaned into the room, checking left and right for signs of Ryan. I felt cartoonish, like the coyote when he would look up and suddenly see a giant boulder falling to meet with his face. Stepping into the room, I dropped my bag on the floor and flicked on a light.

    “You’re supposed to be home today,” muttered a voice behind me.

    I squealed and spun around, throwing my arms out in front of me. When I saw no one staring directly at me, I panicked. My breathing picked up; could I be hallucinating?

    “Down here, Lil. Calm down.” There was a twinge in the voice, the subtle edge of laughter that I knew well. Looking down, it took me a minute to find him. He was bunched in the corner, sitting indian-style, laptop perched on his legs. His blue eyes found mine, only they were different than yesterday; instead of the welcoming robin-egg blue I knew so well they were guarded, a troubled royal blue.

    I offered him a half-smile, my shoulders bunched in slight embarrassment. “Hey, Ryan.” I paused for a moment, a question building on my tongue. “Can I ask exactly what you’re doing in my office?”

    He shrugged, depression rolling off of him in waves. “I wanted some place quiet, where no one would dare dawn. Sound familiar?”

    “Hmmm,” I placed a finger on my cheek, gazing off into the distance in mock thought. “Nope, no idea.” I looked back down to him, his face still as expressionless as before.

    “Shame, I could really use a place like that.”

    “Couldn’t we all?”

    “Yeah, we could. Might actually get something done in here.”

    We stared at each other, our lips twitching at the effort to hide the smiles daring to break our melancholy statements. It was only a few seconds later that Ryan broke out into an infectious grin, laughing in short bursts. It took him a couple of minutes, but slowly his laughter died down to chuckles as he closed his laptop and sat it on the floor.

    “C’mon, come join me on the depressing floor of your room.” He patted the floor invitingly.

    “Thanks, but I’ll pass. Floors as chairs only make for achy butts later,” I gave him a theatrical wince for effect. “My chair, however, is nice and soft.” I wandered over to my desk, pulling out the chair and sitting in it. Instantly I winced, my ribs screaming in protest.

    Ryan had been watching me the entire time. He got up off the ground and hobbled over to my desk, avoiding pressure on his injured leg. “What’s wrong? Has your chair turned to stone, too?”

    I ignored his question, afraid of what I might say. “Do you get off soon? I was thinking about raiding your fridge and making us both some lunch.” I turned on my computer, tapping my fingers against the desk while I watched it load.

    He snapped his fingers, causing me to turn my head in his direction. “One step ahead of you.” He wandered back to the corner I’d originally found him in, picking up a bag I hadn’t noticed earlier. “I stopped at Betty’s this morning. She says hi, by the way. Oh, and she told me that if you don’t eat this I am to kidnap you and take you to her place to eat until you’re a stuffed turkey.”

    I’d just hit the enter button to log in when I caught the end of his sentence. “Betty?” I shook my head. “That woman doesn’t think anyone eats enough. I’d never fit into my jeans again if I ate the way she wants me to.”

    Ryan pulled out two takeout boxes and sat one just to my left. “Go on, open it.”

    I did. To my surprise I found two pieces of french toast with whipped cream and strawberries, an absolute favorite of mine. My stomach gurgled while my eyes stared at the lovely décor of food in front of me. “Oh, Ryan, that’s so sweet! Now I really feel bad about- ”

    He wasn’t looking at me. I looked from his eyes to the computer screen, where my email already sat open, waiting for me. It had automatically open the newest email I’d received, which read:


    Lillian,
    Hope you slept well last night. Call me if the bruises feel more like broken bones, and stay out of Portland for a couple of days. I figured I’d give you two days to file a police report about the attack, or else I will. Don’t think I won’t, please; it’s just an insult. Take care.
    Aaron


    Ryan’s breathing was slow, bordering on nonexistent. I froze, unable to speak, move, do anything.

    “What happened last night, Lil? What does he mean by bruises?” He barely spoke above a whisper, his eyes still focused on the computer screen.

    My mind drew up a blank. I swallowed. “Nothing happened."





    There's more to it than this, but I figured you get the point that the chapter goes on after all is said and done in the beginning.
     
  20. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I think this works fine as the beginning of a chapter. I like how it transitions from dialogue into an explanation of what exactly is going on. It definitely has more of a draw than the standard 'the next day' would have had.
     
  21. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    You could do it with description...
    I looked at the clock. 10 a.m. already?
    or
    The morning sunlight streamed between the bedroom curtains, dazzling him.
     
  22. Mobhit
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    Mobhit Senior Member

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    Dang I always go with "Reading the Paper the following Morning" even if it doesn't have anything to do with the night before I'm so boring!!
     
  23. love2listen
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    I'd say using sunset and sunrise as background illustrations. Like one scene against sunset, next against sunrise
     
  24. Sound of Silence
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    HEY, lilix, nice to meet you.

    Usually the break itself to a new chapter is enough to say time has passed. You don't have to signpost it for the reader. Readers like to interact with the text so getting them to connect the dots (infer) is what writing's all about. Go mad with it, and if you find yourself struggling, look back to how you finished your last chapter and go for contrast. If it ended night time, go for a day setting, if you main guy/girl went to bed smelling of oils from a bath, have him/her cup a hand over their mouth to test for morning breath in the next scene.

    Without reading through the scene you're having trouble with, I can't help you any further. Sorry!
     
  25. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    I still don't see much wrong with just doing this:

     

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