How To Write A Transition Scene

coverUsing my unreleased manuscript An Angel On Her Shoulder, I am showing you my techniques for reworking a story into a more readable, more enjoyable piece. It’s 45+ lessons in about 45 days. (To start at Chapter 1, click HERE.)

To view it best, bring up the two versions in different windows and view them side by side to see what was changed.

Then give me your thoughts in the comment section.

Transitions

If you HAVE to have a transition scene in your story, KEEP IT SHORT or:

  • make it important
  • have it add value.

Transition scenes aren’t always necessary. We aren’t documenting every single thing the characters do all day.

Transition scenes just get us from where we were in one scene, to where we’re supposed to be later. Usually, we can skip that middle part…

We know Doug is gonna meet Tyree; we know Mallory is stressing out. Do we need them to touch base before he heads out? It might be better to have him head off to meet Tyree without checking in with his wife.

Read for yourself and decide.


Chapter 23 “FINAL”

I stared at the storage area in the back of my car and frowned, shaking my head.

I had no idea what to take to my meeting with Tyree tonight or the planned trip to Ybor City tomorrow night.

A flash light? A bible?

A little of everything?

I had no idea. The Navigator was big, though, so even after I had loaded some stuff, it still looked empty. That made me feel even less prepared.

Mallory’s headlights lit up the garage as she came up the driveway. I shut the tailgate on the Navigator and waited for my girls to pull into the garage, debating about what to tell my wife about my plans for the evening.

I didn’t get the chance. As she parked, I saw Sophie slumped over in the car seat, asleep. How kids can sleep in such awkward, uncomfortable positions is beyond me.

On nights when Sophie fell asleep close to dinner time, it was a coin toss as to whether or not to wake her up to feed her. Usually, we decided sleep was what her growing body needed at the moment, so we let her have what she needed.

I lifted my daughter out of the car seat and carried her off to bed. In the dim glow of the princess night light, a gentle tug removed each shoe, allowing me to tuck her under the pink Pooh blanket. I looked around for the proper stuffed animals and arranged them next to her.

Brushing the hair from her face, I kissed her forehead. “Night, night, termite.”

Mallory came in behind me and slipped her hand into mine. We stood there, gazing at our beautiful sleeping daughter.

“I love her so much,” Mallory said.

I gave her hand a squeeze. Then we crept out of the room and eased the door shut behind us.

Like all parents, Mallory and I had long ago figured out how to eat dinner without waking a slumbering child. If Sophie was really down for the night—and it seemed like she was—a brass band wouldn’t wake her before morning. Still, we kept our voices low and tried not to make too much noise. Neither of us was too hungry, anyway. Whatever could be microwaved out of the fridge would do just fine.

I clicked on the TV. The forecaster updated us one path of the hurricane. The weather would get rough pretty soon, but we knew what to do. We’d been through hurricanes before.

From the sunken look on my wife’s face, I could tell she was tired. The shopping trip didn’t lift her spirits the way I’d hoped.

She seemed to have something on her mind, but history had taught me to let her bring it up. I waited, poking at my food, while she poured a big glass of wine and sat down.

“So how was the shopping?”

Mallory took a long sip of wine. “Don’t ask.”

“That bad, huh? Was Sophie misbehaving?”

“Sophie was great.” Mallory sighed. “I was a mess.”

There was a lot in that statement. I held my breath and waited.

“My mind is all caught up thinking about everything that’s happening. It’s ridiculous. It’s like I’m going crazy.” Tears welled in her eyes.

“You’re not going crazy.” I reached across the table and took her hand. “You’re overwhelmed. We both are. A lot of information has been shoved down our throats and we’re trying to figure it all—”

“I almost ran over a homeless guy at Alton’s because I thought he was an attacker!” Mallory threw her hands in the air. “He probably just wanted some spare change.”

“No, no, that’s perfectly . . . okay, yeah. That’s crazy.”

She chuckled, wiping her eyes. “Don’t do that. This is serious.”

“Hit and run is pretty serious, too.”

“Stop.”

“Leaving the scene of an accident . . .”

She threw a piece of bread at me. We laughed.

“Look.” I set down my fork. “There’s a lot going on. People who find out that their kid is possessed or something, they—”

Mallory glared at me. “She is not possessed.”

“Right. She isn’t.” I took a deep breath and stared at my plate. “But whatever’s going on, if it’s, um, an exorcism or whatever, nobody is going to believe us. Nobody. Anybody who heard what we had to say would think we were crazy, or under a lot of strain from work or something. But nobody would believe the truth. Would you?” I looked her in the eye. “A few weeks ago, if one of your friends had told you a story like this, what would you have thought?”

Mallory shook her head. “I’d say they were looney.”

“Yeah, so . . . I went to places I thought might not think that way. The church, for one.” I shifted on my seat. “And I found this guy on the internet . . .”

“The internet?” She buried her face in her hands. “Oh, God.”

“I know, I know. It sounded crazy to me, too…”

“What is it, a psychic?”

No that’s tomorrow in Ybor City.

“It’s just some guy, honey.” I swallowed, trying to think of a way to make it sound less ridiculous. “I think he used to be a priest.  I just . . . I think he might be able to help us.”

“What makes you think that?”

It was a good question. I wasn’t a hundred percent certain what had switched me over from being skeptical to being open minded about Tyree.

But I couldn’t tell my wife that. Gazing at her puffy, red eyes, I knew she wanted a solution. She wanted to feel safe again.

“I talked to him on the phone and he seemed like a straight shooter. And he won’t take any money.”

She sat in silence, watching me with sad, blue eyes. Across the room, the weather forecasters rambled on about barometric pressure and categories of storms.

I leaned forward on my elbows. “It’s just one option, sweetie.”

Mallory took a sip of her wine. “Where are you meeting him?”

“Not here,” I said quickly. “He was across the state this morning when I called him. He offered to drive over, so I’m meeting him up off of highway 54, at the international beer garden place.”

“Ugh.” She set her glass down, pressing the stem between her fingers and causing the glass to turn. “Don’t drink too much.”

“I’m not going to drink at all. I don’t think he drinks, either. It was just an easy spot for him to find, and . . .”

She raised her eyebrows. “And?”

“And it wasn’t here at the house. I didn’t want to bring somebody like that here, a stranger from the internet. Not with everything that’s been going on.”

“How do you know if you can trust him, or if he’s—”

“I don’t. But I think I’m a pretty good judge of character. If he’s not a good guy, I think I’ll know. I’m just exploring options. In fact . . .” I turned around and squinted at the clock on the oven. “I should get ready. He’s going to call when he gets off the interstate. That’ll be any time now.”

She stood up and walked around the table. I thought she was going for more wine, but she slid her arms around me and laid her head on my shoulder. “Be careful.”

“I will.” I nodded, stroking her arm. “Look, you can go on to bed whenever. I’ll call or text as soon as I’m through talking with him, if you want. The bar is a public place. There will be lots of people around.”

It didn’t sit well, I could tell. I squeezed her. “Nothing’s gonna happen.”

“I’m nervous about you meeting this stranger. And I’m nervous about not meeting him.” She sighed. “But I’m more worried about what happens if we don’t start doing something.”

“Do you want to call your mother and go over there?” I asked.

She was quiet for a moment.

“No.”

It would have been an admission of weakness of some sort. Strength was what was needed right now.

I leaned back to look in her eyes. “Okay, then?”

She nodded. “Okay.”

I kissed her, then I looked at the time again. Whatever additional preparations I needed to do, I should start doing them. I got up from the table and headed out of the room.

“I just want our old life back.” Mallory’s voice quivered. I turned to see her standing, one arm wrapped around her waist, the other wiping her eye. “Our plain, boring life.”

“I know, honey.” I went over and gave her a hug. “We’ll get there.”

I went to my computer and typed a short note while Mallory went upstairs.

Meeting a man called John Tyrone Reed at the international beer house on highway 54. If anything goes wrong, here is his contact information.

I left the document open on the screen. Mallory wouldn’t normally go into my office and use my computer, but if something happened to me, this is what she needed to know.

I wondered what, if anything, I should tell her about my plans to go down to Ybor City tomorrow. If she was concerned about this plan, she definitely wouldn’t like that one.

My cell phone rang. It was Tyree calling.

I went to say goodbye, but she was already in bed. The cell phone screen cast enough light to see she’d crawled into bed with all her clothes on, pulling a sheet over herself and laying on her side facing away from the door.

I pulled the bedroom door shut and stood in the hallway, deciding not to bother her. She’d had enough for one night. I slid my phone back into my pocket and reached for the handrail.

Through the door came the muffled sounds of sobbing.


 

Original Chapter 23, An Angel On Her Shoulder

 

I had been putting some things into my car when Michele pulled up. I wasn’t sure what to take for my appointments in Ybor City and with Tyree, so I thought about taking a little of everything.

A flash light? A bible? I had no idea. The Navigator was big, though; so even after I had put my stuff in it, it still looked empty. That made me feel less prepared than I wanted.

Savvy was still asleep in Michele’s car. On nights like this, when she fell asleep so close to dinner time, it was a coin toss as to whether or not to wake her up to feed her. Usually, we decided that missing dinner wouldn’t be harmful to a girl who ate well most of the time. She might fight it, but she still ate well, and if sleep was what her body needed at the moment, we let her have what she needed.

I quietly slid Savvy out of the car seat and carried her off to bed. I pulled off her shoes in the dim glow of the night light, and tucked her under the pink Pooh blanket. Then I looked around for the proper stuffed animals, and arranged them next to her.

“Night, night, termite,” I whispered, kissing my daughter on the forehead. If she had been awake, she would have echoed the sentiment. I pushed the button on the CD player on the nightstand. Soothing orchestra music began to play.

Michele came in behind me, and slipped her hand into mine. We stood there, holding hands, gazing at our beautiful sleeping daughter.

“I love her so much,” Michele said. I gave her hand a squeeze in acknowledgement. Then we crept out of the room and gently closed the door.

The house had been built in two phases; the back part had been an addition, so the two sets of French doors on either side of the living room fireplace could be shut, sealing off TV noise and conversation from drifting up to the bedrooms. Michele and I had long ago figured out how best to eat dinner without waking our daughter. Shutting the doors worked most of the time. If Savvy was really down for the night – and it appeared that she was – she would not wake up before morning.

Still, old habits prevail. We kept our voices low and tried not to make too much noise fixing dinner. On TV, the weather man constantly updated everyone on the path of the little hurricane. The weather was going to get rough pretty soon, but we had bigger fish to fry. Besides, we’d been through hurricanes before. We knew what to do.

Neither of us was too hungry; whatever was in the fridge that could be microwaved, would do just fine.

From the sunken look on my wife’s face, I could tell she was tired. The shopping trip did not lift her spirits the way I had hoped.

She seemed to have something on her mind, but history had taught me to let her bring it up. So I  waited, poking at my food. Michele poured a big glass of wine and sat down.

We smiled weakly at each other. It had been a long day. One of us was winding down; the other was winding up. We both had things to say, and neither of us was talking.

“How was the shopping?” I finally asked.

“Ugh,” Michele replied. She took a big sip of her wine. “Don’t ask. It was terrible.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. Was Savvy misbehaving or something?”

“No; Savvy was fine,” Michele said. “Savvy was great. I was a mess.”

I was surprised at that. “You were… a mess?” There was a lot in that statement.

“I’m paranoid,” She sighed. “I’m seeing boogeymen everywhere! My mind is all caught up thinking about everything that’s happening. It’s ridiculous! It’s like I’m going crazy…”

Tears began to form in her eyes.

“You’re not going crazy,” I said calmly. “We’ve both had a lot of information shoved down our throats and we’re trying to figure it all out. Like, why do we keep having these accidents? Why are we both having the same crazy dreams? I get it. It’s overwhelming.”

“I almost ran over a homeless guy at Alton’s because I thought he was an attacker!” Michele spurted out. “He probably just wanted some spare change!”

“Yeah, well… that is crazy,” I said, smiling

That made her laugh a little, breaking the tension.

“Don’t do that,” She said. “This is serious.”

“Hit and run is pretty serious, too!”

“Stop.”

“Leaving the scene of an accident…”

She threw a piece of bread at me. We laughed.

“Look,” I said, “there’s a lot going on. People who find out that their kid is possessed or something – ”

“She is NOT possessed!”

“Right,” I said. “She isn’t. But whatever is going on, if it’s, um, an exorcism or whatever, nobody is going to believe us. Nobody. Anybody who heard what we had to say would think we were crazy, or under a lot of strain from work or something. But nobody would believe the truth.”

“Would you?” I asked. “If one of your friends brought you this story, on any other day just a few weeks ago – what would you think?”

Michele shook her head. “I’d think they were looney.”

“So I went to places I thought might not think that way… the church, for one. And I found this guy on the internet…”

She didn’t like that. “The internet? Oh, God!”

“I know, I know. It sounded crazy to me, too…”

“What is it, a psychic?” she asked.

No that’s tomorrow.

“It’s just some guy,” I said. “I think he used to be a priest. I found him online. His ad said ‘Help for the Hopeful.’ I just… I think he might be able to help us.”

“What makes you think that?” Michele asked. It was a good question.

“I talked to him on the phone and he seemed like a straight shooter. And he doesn’t want any money.”

She looked at me, taking it in.

I went on. “It’s just one option; I’m trying to find more. I figured, it couldn’t hurt to talk to him and see what he’s all about. Maybe he can help; maybe he can point us in the right direction. Maybe he’s full of it. I don’t know, but I have to try something and this seemed like it might be a step in the right direction, to figure things out.”

Michele took a sip of her wine. “Where are you meeting him?”

“Not here,” I said quickly. “He was across the state this morning when I called him. He offered to drive over, so I’m meeting him up off of highway 54, at the international beer garden place.”

“Ugh,” she replied. “Don’t drink too much.”

“I’m not going to drink at all. I don’t think he drinks, either. It was just an easy spot to find, and…”

She was impatient. “And…?”

“And it wasn’t here at the house. I didn’t want to bring a stranger like that here, from the internet. Not with everything that’s been going on.”

She was flustered. “How do you know if he’s… if, well, if you can trust him, or if he’s part of…”

I cut her off. “I don’t. I don’t know if I can trust him. But I think I’m a pretty good judge of character. If he’s not a good guy, I think I’ll know. I’m just exploring options.”

That satisfied her for the moment. She didn’t like the idea, but seemed to agree that we needed to do something. “What time are you supposed to meet?”

“Pretty soon,” I said. I glanced over at the clock on the oven. “He’s going to call when he gets off the interstate.”

She stood up and walked around the table. I thought she was going for more wine, but she turned suddenly and gave me a hug.

“Be careful.”

I stroked her arm. “I will.”

Then I turned to her. “Look, you can go on to bed whenever. I’ll call or text when I’m through talking with him, if you want. It’ll be a public place; nothing’s going to happen. There will be lots of people around.”

It didn’t sit well, I could tell.

“I’m nervous about you meeting this stranger,” she said. “And I’m nervous about not meeting him. I’m more worried about what happens if we don’t start doing something… Something to protect ourselves.”

“Do you want to call your mother and go over there?” I asked.

“No…” It would have been an admission of weakness of some sort. Strength was what was needed right now.

“Okay, then?”I asked.

She sighed. “Okay.”

I kissed her. Then I looked at the time again. Whatever additional preparations I needed to do, I should start doing them.

“I just want my normal boring life back,” Michele said in a whisper. Her voice quivered.

“I know, honey.” I gave her a hug. “We’ll get there.”

As she put the few dinner dishes in the sink, I went over to the computer in my office. I had everything I could think of, but I sat down and typed a short note on my computer.

“Meeting a man called John Tyrone Reed at the international beer house on hwy 54”I wrote. “If anything goes wrong, here is his contact information”

I left the document open on the screen. Michele wouldn’t normally go into my office and use my computer, but if something happened to me, this is what she needed to know.

I wondered what, if anything, I should tell her about my plans to go down to Ybor City the next night. If she didn’t like this plan, she definitely wouldn’t like that one. But we both agreed that we had to start doing something.

My cell phone rang. It was Tyree calling.

Time to go.

I said goodbye casually, so as not to add tension to what was supposed to be an informational meeting. Then I headed out to the garage. Michele finished in the kitchen and went upstairs to the window, waiting for the big black Navigator to drive away. She did a good job pretending that all of this wasn’t bothering her. Now, her daughter was asleep, and in a moment her husband would be gone.

She watched as the car backed out of the garage and pulled down the driveway. It turned down the street and disappeared behind the oak trees.

Then she walked into the bedroom. She crawled under the sheets with her clothes on, closed her eyes tightly, and began to sob.


ANALYSIS

What did we learn in this transition scene that was important or added value?

  • The whole story is about the parents caring for their daughter, or trying to. You get to see some of that, and how Sophie unites them.
  • Readers with kids will identify with the slumbering child in the car seat, carrying a sleeping kid off to bed, and gazing at them while they slept.
  • You also learn Doug was afraid to invite Tyree to the house. That reveals more of Doug’s character.
  • And we see that despite calming down, Mallory is still very  emotionally upset. That reveals more of her character, too – and we can’t help but think the guy who held his wife’s hand while gazing at their sleeping daughter is going to work hard to make his wife stop crying.
  • Also, we see Mallory’s lament that her boring life was pretty ideal now. Who hasn’t been there after a rough patch?

But

You could lose this chapter, and those few bits of info could be folded in somewhere else. So if we find ourselves running long when we’re finished, that’s a place to cut almost 2,000 words. Just remember to add back the parts that were essential.

One other thing that was essential: even his wife doesn’t like that he met Tyree through the internet. More tension.

Now:

head shot

Let me have your comments. The next chapters will post tomorrow but they will ALL come down shortly after February 15, so don’t dawdle!

You are readers, too. Your input will shape the final product. Be honest.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Available in paperback and audio book, too!

9 thoughts on “How To Write A Transition Scene

  1. Yes, you could cut this chapter, however it brought us out of Mallory’s stress. And the final verdict of whether or not this chapter should be made redundant, would depend on what is in the NEXT chapter. Not having seen that, it’s hard to make that decision. All that being said, Mallory’s not being totally calm with everything does make her very human. Sophie’s nodding out, makes her very human and Doug’s wish to protect his family at all costs, makes him very human. Gee, isn’t that funny, because if I were a demon, seeking to possess something, I would look for a very human.. uh, human!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like to think there is a good reason to keep every chapter. To make sure that readers feel the same way, I try to make them all indispensable by adding elements to it that the reader will think are important.

      But we all have to realize occasionally you can chop stuff out. Like that looooooong scene with the history of winemaking. That had to go.

      In a few chapters, you will find out one or two things in this chapter that were important for you to know. But like you point out, there’s nothing wrong with reminding us these people are human and reminding characters that they identify with these people.

      Also, it does raise a little bit of tension in a different direction because if you’re going to the grocery store you don’t leave a message like Doug left on his computer. That’s borderline ominous.

      Plus, even though this little scene where they are teasing each other, even though it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, it is mildly amusing and again it’s relatable. People who love each other would have some playful banter like that. And he does it to get her to relax, but I do it to get the reader to relax a little bit, too. If I get you to relax and then I scare you, that makes the roller coaster that much higher.

      Like

  2. I prefer the final version where he leaves Mallory as he hears her crying. I think that it gives it a reality. I know that I would be in the bedroom with the door shut, crying my eyes out. I think this scene works and is important to show how much stress this couple is under and how determined he is to find a solution to his problem. Great writing Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

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