Many of us have already been told it’s better to keep our prose as simple as possible: clear is better than clever, as they say. For the most part, I agree. And I’ve enjoyed my share of flowery prose! One part of a story that’s created something of a dividing line between me and other authors, though, is just that: the dividing line. To put it more broadly, the use of transitions.
Keeping in mind that adage of clearer being better than clever, I don’t see much point in dwelling on long, rambling transition sequences. But, I also think the dividing line is a bit of a cheat. Not only does that divider line (or space block, or asterisks, or whatever) take the reader out of the moment, it breaks the flow of the narrative. Sometimes, this doesn’t matter so much; if you’re changing perspective, for example, you want to separate the narrative flow somehow. But for a subtle scene or time change, I prefer to keep reading, rather than having my eye stutter over a visual division.
The rest of the afternoon passed quickly: the relatively uneventful walk back to the city centre, with St. Stephens and the train station, and a bit of aimless traipsing around the shops while the hotel prepared their late check-in room. Sally led them into a book shop where they stopped to listen to a charming children’s reading circle; Larry dallied in a retro art store with a selection of colorful and odd-looking international movie posters.
The quaintness was charming, of course, and they chatted along the way about both realistic potentialities and dreamy might-bes. But, through it all, there was still something missing, something hovering almost expectantly in the air between them: when they’d stop at a corner, or pause in conversation, or share a quiet look over tea and biscuits in a coffee shop.
Now, the above doesn’t really move the plot along any; all it does is take the reader from one scene to another. An editor might tell me to cut it. Simply removing these paragraphs between the two scenes makes my brain stutter, though, the same as putting in one of those divider lines would do. So, I’ve indulged myself with this transition.
What are your feelings on transitions in prose?