1. Lovelina
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    Lovelina Member

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    Passage of Time

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lovelina, Jun 13, 2012.

    Hello everyone,

    What are some ways to describe or indicate the passage of a short span of time (I use "a few moments later" presently, but I find it awkward)?

    For instance, your protagonist overhears a conversation in the next room, and the conversation is about her. She doesn't want to hear any more of it, so she walks away and weeps quietly on the balcony far away from the previously mentioned room. The next scene doesn't take place until this conversation is over and one of the participants walks out of the room. What is the best way to illustrate the passing of this short period of waiting time?

    On a different but related note, what are some techniques that you use to switch between scenes (besides opening a new chapter)?

    I find it really admirable that accomplished writers can switch between scenes so smoothly (without necessarily using transition words) that you barely notice.

    Please give your answer in regards to third person limited. :) Thank you.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    One strategy is to use events rather than directly referring to the passage of time, ideally making them events that have significance beyond their usefulness in communicating the passage of time. I think that it's that added significance that makes the transition subtle--you focus on the added meaning, and you aren't conscious that you've also been told about a time or scene transition.

    One attempt at an example based on your scenario, of both a short passage of time and a scene change: (And, yes, I got a little carried away.)

    She leaned on the railing, listening to the muffled music as she waited for the night air to cool her hot eyes. Characterless jazz, thudding rock. Then, like a gift, the opening notes of _Tuxedo Junction_ floated through the glass just as she began to shiver. She turned back to the ballroom with a smile that felt almost real. And her luck held; he was gone.

    He was still gone later, when dinner was served. She'd drifted past the banquet tables to find his placecard, and only decided to stay upon confirming that he was seated at the other end of the room. He was to be near (and she felt a bitter guilty glee at this discovery) the kitchen, the lowest-status position on any seating chart, while she was only two tables away from the table where the guest of honor sat in state and accepted birthday wishes.

    But he didn't sit in his lowly seat, not when the water was poured, not when the salad plates were taken away, not when the lights were dimmed and the blazing cake was rolled across the room to a blur of appreciative murmurs. Nor did she see him elsewhere--she wouldn't put it past him to steal a better seat, but he had vanished. When her slice of cake was deposited by the waiter, she ventured to speak to the man to her left.​


    ChickenFreak
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To end a scene, consider how the POV character (story character or virtual character) 'leaves" the scene. That can tell you how to wrap the scene.

    Does the character physically leave? Indicate that.

    Does the character fall asleep or become unconscious? Let the scene trail off and pick up when the character awakens.

    Does the character lose interest? Say so.

    Does the scene leave the character (e.g. the party breaks up, or someone pays the restaurant bill and everyone goes home)? Tell that.


    Go to your novel collection. Every novel consists of scenes, whether they all end at chapter boundaries or not. Look at how different authors wrap up the scenes, and how they introduce them.
     
  4. Lovelina
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    Lovelina Member

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