HOW TO LINK SCENES TOGETHER
One of the toughest things to do when writing is linking scenes. And since scenes are the building blocks for a novel, this topic cannot be overlooked.
Think of it this way. What if you were at a circus watching a trapeze artist soaring high in the sky, catching one trapeze and swinging to the next. You’re mesmerized as long as it’s smooth – more focused on the feat of the swinging rather than the chance that she’ll fall. But, if this trapeze artist swings and falters, catching onto the next trapeze and wobbling, we gasp!
Why do we gasp? It’s because at that moment, we’re taken out of the feat of the event and we’re now brought into the possibility that she could really hurt herself. And heaven help us if she were to miss the trapeze completely.
We should consider scenes in much the same way. As long as they are linking smoothly, no one notices; there aren’t hard breaks and jumps that take the reader out of the story, but the baton is passed smoothly from one scene to the next.
WHAT A BAD LINK LOOKS LIKE
Think of scenes as sentences. The prior sentence helps to understand the preceding.
She came down the stairs. Bears were in the woods. Sugar was in the cabinet.
Those three sentences don’t connect without some serious thought. Sure, it’s possible for these to connect, but as it stands, they don’t. This can be resolved with some filler sentences.
WHAT A GOOD LINK LOOKS LIKE
She came down the stairs. She looked out the living room window. Bears were in the woods. She wanted the bears to come to her. She’d been told that bears loved sugar. To lure the bears, she knew she needed sugar. Sugar was in the cabinet.
Why a woman would want to lure bears to her house is beyond me. But the lines do connect. There is a reasonable flow of thought from one sentence to the next.
The same should be true for scenes. But the thoughts become more conceptual – more difficult to visualize than the sentences above. However, the principle is still the same.
Scenes should link together reasonably. Scenes link to make chapters, and of course chapters link to make novels. Novels link to make sagas.
If there is a scene where your main character loses his best friend, the next scene should not be your character laughing at dinner, generally speaking.( I’ll come back to this). The next scene needs to show your character processing his loss. The reader wants to see that the main character has a difficult time with the hardship of losing a friend.
This can be done with a “laughing dinner” scene. In fact, it could actually be clever. Perhaps your main character is at a dinner laughing, though inside he’s hurting. That gives the contrast of sadness vs. happiness.
That said, linking scenes should always always always have the previous scene in mind.
Let me know your thoughts.
It’s so obvious that sometimes, it’s worth mentioning.
Haha so true, Eric.
Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head with your blog post. Yes, even some experienced authors forget sometimes that we, the readers, do not have access to their brains and can therefore not know what happened during a break between scenes. Maybe somebody is laughing at dinner because he’s having a nervous breakdown over his friend’s death…maybe he’s a callous swine and doesn’t care…maybe he suspects his friend was murdered and he’s trying to catch the suspecting killer off guard…unless the link between scenes is made crystal clear, the reader’s left in the dark.
You are so right about that. It takes the reader out of the story whenever she has to figure out what emotions and thoughts the character may be having about whatever might have happened.