1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Omniscient transitions

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Sep 14, 2013.

    I've gone with an omniscient narrator for my short story (after much deliberation), but I'm finding transitions between character thoughts, and different trains of thought to be a little hard. Going from talking about one character, to another character, to the city they live in, sometimes feels a little bit bland in the transition work. I could always say, "He'd grown up in this city, yadda yadda yadda," which sounds sort of unoriginal, or say "In his youth," which sounds even more straight out of the book. Any thoughts on how to figure out interesting, seamless transitions in train of thought/POV?
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Alright, the basic: there should at least be paragraph breaks between transition of thoughts/pov between different chars.

    Timeline transition: even though not writing in chronological order usually the preceding para should be a stepping stone to the next para, logical connection so that the transition seem natural. I think that is more important to consider than how cleverly worded your transition sentence is. If I am really into the story and the time is exactly right for you to inform me about the char's youth I won't mind if you start with "in his youth". Having said that I know it will only help the readers enjoy more if it is cleverly worded. My point is, clarity should be your main objective for now.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't use a character's background in making a transition from character to character. Put the new character in the middle of something; engage the reader immediately. If his history in the city is important to the story, work it into the story in a way that moves the story forward. Otherwise, it's just backstory and of little or no interest to the reader.
     
  4. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    The city's history is critical, as it's change from a small town to a big city parallels one of the main themes and causes the main conflict.
     
  5. smerdyakov
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    smerdyakov Senior Member

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    Give the reader as much as they need - don't info dump them with big blocks of narrative exposition. Work the background of the characters into dialogue and occasional snippets of internal thoughts. Don't worry about transitions, because most readers will know the difference, as long as you're not head-hopping too much. I have read that you should stay in the same POV if you have more than two characters for that chapter or short...
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, but that's a transition that takes a really long time. Using a long explanatory passage on the history of the city to transition to a different character (which is what I think you indicated you want to do; if I'm wrong about that, my apologies) is a good way to lose the reader. Better to make the change of character sudden, stark and immersed in the current conflict. You can work in the matter of the locale's transition in a sentence or two, but you can do that by relating it to the character's actions, and possibly his recollections.

    The thing about backstory is that it is almost always more important to the writer than it is to the reader. In this case, you need to know the transition of the small town to a city and how that happened, but the reader only needs a hint of it - and that being whatever specific events in the past have a direct impact on the conflicts of the present that presumably make up the heart of your story.

    My current project is a historical novel in which I have invested several years of background reading and research. And although it shapes the conflicts of the novel, only the smallest fraction of that material is actually part of the story. In those cases where I have run into problems (and there have been a few), it has been in those cases in which I have tried to pry too much of the history that I find so fascinating into the story I am trying to tell. So, it's an ever-present impulse (just last night, I couldn't sleep because I knew the chapter I had just about finished was off, and lying there trying to sleep - ever really TRY to sleep? Doesn't work - it came to me: too much history, not enough novel).

    If you'd like to get more specific, feel free to PM me.
     
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