It’s raining, and the weather forecasters say the rain will probably end in snow early tomorrow. Almost springlike today and perhaps two inches of snow tomorrow. Is there any such thing as a smooth transition? Winter, here we come!
Smooth transitions are more likely in writing than in weather or anything else, but smooth transitions aren’t always what you want in a story. In fact, often the suddenness of a change is what drives the story. Everybody’s happy and joyful, and then a car drives into the deli–no announcement–where all the laughing was going on. Whoever expects that? And what caused it to happen, anyway?
Not even a reader will predict a car crashing against a deli counter unless the story’s eye alternates between the ill-fated driver who is only three blocks away, now two blocks away, now one, from the shopper innocently ordering a pound of Swiss and a pound of sliced turkey, and oh, yes, give me some of that cole–hey!
That alternating eye can give you suspense as the reader wishes the deli patron would answer the cell phone he left on the table near the back. Why won’t he answer it, and how many seconds are left before it is too late? Forget the deli order, man! Answer the phone and save your life!
Life can change in a minute, in an instant, and then there is no going back. We are changed forever. Maybe sometimes we writers write to be in control of that, to soften that, to mend the wounds. If it’s in my story, then I invented the car that drove into the deli. I can unwrite it, I can change where the impact is, and I can take the action in fifteen different directions afterwards, depending on whether the red stuff is ketchup or blood. Or paint. Or ink. I can make people say I’m sorry. Or not. Whichever the story requires.
But one thing I can’t do is stop the rain outside my window from turning to snow.
Well, it is December, isn’t it?
Gotta look for those boots!
P.S. Come see me at my book signing at one o’clock this Saturday at the Barnes and Noble in Devon, PA . I will be soooo happy to see you there!