Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Transitions-lead readers from one cliff(hanger) to another...AND GIVEAWAY!!!

Photo taken of hiking trail cliff crevice near my home.

(Article reprinted from eHarlequin 2009)

Creating strong transitions is something I've been striving to do better in my work. Transitions are the passage from one scene (or chapter or POV switch) to the next. Most often, you can link the two by one hooky sentence out and one hooky sentence in.

All strong transitions need to contain hooks in my opinion. Each transition sentence or paragraph at the end of a scene or time or chapter break should keep the reader turning pages. I recommend you not do anything that would give the reader an excuse to set the book down.

Oftentimes you will hear people say about a book, "It was a page-turner" or "I couldn't put it down" or "I stayed up and read the entire thing." In those stories, pay particular attention to how the author executed their transitions. I'd venture to guess that most of the time, the author has great hooks in and out of their chapters or scene breaks or POV switches. Strong transitions can alleviate episodic writing. Oftentimes, episodic writing (writing that is just a series of events that have no overall story arc) contains weak transitions.

An example would be ending the scene or chapter with the character going to sleep and then beginning the next scene or chapter with the character waking up. You don't have to show every detail of a character's daily living. Weak transitions slow pacing and can lead to drab sections where the characters are just going along, mundane, about their daily routine but nothing significant is happening to chain one scene or chapter to the next.

Strong hooks in and out of your scenes or chapters make for excellent transitions. Most authors work very hard to make the opening hook of their book strong. But you need to strive to write EVERY first and last scene/chapter sentence as though it were your first one. The most logical place for a character’s POV switch is also during a strong transition which occurs during a scene, time or chapter break.

Many (but not all) strong transitions leave the reader hanging either by an unresolved conflict or a brand new crisis that arises right at the end of the scene or chapter. I’ve also seen great transitions that allude to the developing relationship in romance. Hints of attraction. Wonder at the emotions forming for the opposite character, etc. So strong transitions don’t just have to be some sort of crisis, danger or calamity. It can be a poignant hook that denotes for the reader a change in the heroine’s heart, where it’s bending toward the hero for example.

Transitions should make sense and flow smoothly. In the book I'm working on now, my editors marked a couple of places with the words, "Good transition!" Two or three books ago, I was struggling to make strong transitions. So I'll provide one good example one bad example from my work. The bad example was mentioned above. I had a bad habit of having my characters end the scene with dinner or bedtime. Then I would begin the next scene or chapter with breakfast or waking up. There's nothing wrong with doing that if you do it sparingly and or if you need only one day's passage between your story timeline. BUT, I was using that transition device for a lot of my scene or chapter breaks. B-O-R-I-N-G! LOL! My editors urged me to strengthen the transitions on edits. On recent books I've tried harder to focus on strong transitions.

In the recently line-edited one, (the good example) the hero is having a conversation with his pararescue teammates about the heroine, who is a Christian. He's not yet a believer and knows she won't date him unless he commits his life to Christ. The other thing he knows is that if he ever comes to God, it has to be on God's terms and not for the sake of the heroine. That's the story set-up. His PJ (pararescue jumper) teammate mentions his spending more time with the heroine, who he supposedly didn't like because she crashed her sizzling red sedan into his custom built motorcycle and kept him from a mission. I ended that chapter with the hero responding in dialogue to his teammate, "…besides, we'd never fall for one another. She has a strong idea about the kind of guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with. And I definitely do not fit that description."

The next chapter switches to heroine’s POV. They’ve discovered they have a common goal in reaching out to at-risk teens and have been hanging out together. She's waiting for the hero to come pick her up for a motorcycle ride. Her aunt, living with her, peeks out the window and says, "He definitely fits the description." What is happening there is the aunt has wanted to meet the hero and the heroine is describing his manner of dress. That part is assumed from context. But this transition worked because, though I was talking about two different things related to his description, it worked to be a hooky transition because of clever wordage and truths and a foreshadowing of the hero/heroine’s future destiny together that the reader picks up on before the characters do.

So basically I end one chapter with hero saying, "And I definitely do not fit the description."

The next chapter's first sentence reads, "He definitely fits the description." Elsie peered through the gauzy curtain at Vince who rumbled into her yard.

"Black leather jacket and jeans?" Val dabbed at her nose with powder. Maybe Elsie was too distracted peering at the tall, dark and handsome but brooding PJ to notice her freshening her makeup.

"Quit primping and answer the door. Here he comes." Elsie let the curtain fall back into place and Val raced her to the door knowing Elsie'd give him the third degree if she got to him first.

Elsie has been spurring Val not to get into a romantic relationship with the hero because she (Elsie) married an unbeliever and struggled through thirty years of marriage. Neither wants Val to have to go that, so Elsie is the constant reminder to Val that she must keep her heart at a distance until/unless Vince devotes his heart to God. That has nothing to do with the transition other than to help you understand this example in context.

Another thing a strong transition will do is let the reader know right off the bat, like in the first sentence or second at the latest, whose POV we're in for that scene or chapter.

There are a lot of other things involved in creating strong transitions, but basically, try to make the last sentence of previous scenes or chapters lead into or tie cleverly into the next somehow, even if there's a large passage of time. A transition can be one sentence out and one sentence in. Or it can be one paragraph out and one in. But if you can cull it down from a paragraph to a sentence or two, it will pack more punch.

I'd love to hear examples of great transitions from your own WIPs or from books you've recently read. Do share! Thanks for spending time with me today. Happy transitioning! Warmly, Cheryl

A Soldier's Devotion, the book referenced in this article, releases in January 2010 from Steeple Hill Love Inspired.

Speaking of...I'm giving away to two lucky (I hope!) Seekervillains (that's you) a free copy each of Soldier Daddy and A Soldier's Reunion, my June and October Wings of Refuge books from Steeple Hill. To be entered, leave a comment with your e-mail address. Insert brackets somewhere in it so phishers/net spiders don't troll your addy. Deadline to enter is this Friday, August 21 at Midnight CST. I'll notify the winner over the weekend and possibly have our fantabulous Tina post their name on the Weekend Edition. Two books. Two winners. Be sure to leave us your e-mail address so we may get in touch with you if you win.

Happy Transition-ing!




Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for a great post, Cheryl.

My great transitions award for the day goes to Mary Connealy. She makes excellent use of the device you mentioned, ending one scene with a word or phrase that opens the next, but she throws in a twist as you did in the great example you gave.

In my first manuscript, I had a character fall asleep at the end of a chapter. I read in a writing craft book later that my reader was likely to put the book down at that point and do the same.

I've been working on my scene- and chapter-ending hooks, and I think I'm making progress. I finaled in a contest recently, and I hope when the feedback arrives I learn that the judges liked the transitions.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cheryl, what a good group of points you make here! And have I thanked you recently (read: today!!!) for your excellent post on writing tight? What a blessing those words of wisdom have been to me as I re-write books and chop 10-15,000 words...

Oh mylanta, talk about long-winded!


To me a good chapter transition flows smoothly, but leaves the reader wanting to turn the page rather than turn down the covers.

When a book does that for me, I'm invested.

Here's a snippet from the opening chapters of "Drink In the Moment", a traditionally light-hearted Ruthy-tale about two recovering alcoholics...


Boog shifted her way while the teams lined up for the obligatory handshake. “I wasn’t all that understanding this afternoon.” He cleared his throat. Worked his jaw. “I didn’t mean to be insensitive.”

What was there about this man? His frankness, his sense of honor. He’d come in the chill of a wet April’s eve to bring her chai and apologize for laughing at her. Was this what sponsors did or was the good-looking woodcrafter going above and beyond?

She had no clue. “You were right, Boog,” she admitted. “I was whining. I recognized it when I got home because Skeeter was doing the exact same thing.”

He smiled.

She took a notable step back. “I shouldn’t drop in and dump things on you, in any case. I’m going to try harder to channel my emotions. Deal with them without the characteristic droning.”

“And pouting,” he added, his tone helpful.

She made a face. “Thanks for the reminder.”

He was quiet for long seconds before he shrugged broad shoulders. “I like it when you drop by.”

Okay, how was she supposed to read that? Seven little words that meant what? Drop by more often? I’m being polite because I hurt your feelings and guilt is riding roughshod over me? Marry me? Bear my children?

Boog’s hesitancy sent too many mixed signals. She was through trying to figure out people who couldn’t figure out themselves. She had enough emotional baggage for a kitchen full of bakers. No sense bringing the well-adjusted man beside her into the fray. He’d just run screaming if he had half a brain.

Since she wasn’t sure how to respond, she glanced at her watch. “Don’t you usually catch the seven o’clock meeting at St. Luke’s?”

The stone church offered space to the local AA group. Tuesday nights were open meeting night, and Boog usually attended, his presence a comfort. He’d succeeded in putting his alcohol problems behind him. Now a respected businessman, his example beaconed hope to others.

He jerked one shoulder up. “I owed you one.”


Despite her problems, Rita was reasonably certain she didn’t want, need or seek someone’s attention because they “owed her” anything. She nodded, wondering where her resolve not to whine or pout disappeared to in such a short time. Keeping her eyes trained on the emptying field, she responded in kind, her tone tight. “Consider us even.”

Chapter Three

Consider us even.

Rita’s words rang as though she stood beside him, light eyes guarded, their shine dimmed by his lack of compassion.

But better he steer her in the right direction now than clean up the potential mess later. He was absolutely, positively not going to take responsibility for a heartbreak that might lead to her fall off the wagon. He knew what he was capable of. He recognized his limitations. No sense heading down a road with no end. Or maybe it was a road that long since ended. Either way, his choices were restricted.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Great article, Cheryl! I honestly never think about starting a chapter with a hook. I just try to end it with one. But I have done what you were saying about tying the ending with the beginning. I did that a few times in the book I just finished. In one chapter, it ends right after the heroine has let the hero kiss her. She's horribly confused and fighting her attraction to him, thinking she can never marry him and not wanting to fall in love with him. She ends the chapter by thinking, "I've never been so miserable in my life." The next chapter opens the next morning with the hero whistling and thinking he'd never been happier in his life.

Another time, I end the chapter with the heroine thinking she can't ever let the hero kiss her again. Not that he'd ever want to. The next chapter opens with the hero thinking, "Why didn't I just kiss her?"

That story was so fun to write. It lent itself to lots of great transitions.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Keli, I also love Mary's transitions. She's excellent at hooks. It sounds as though you are on the right track, too!

Thanks for stopping by.


Julie Lessman said...

Good morning, Cheryl, and what a great post this is!

Keli ... grin, I'll try to remember that ... MEMO: Do NOT have characters falling asleep at the end of a scene. Mmmm ... as much as I like romance, there's probably not much danger of that happening in mine, I guess ... :)

And, Ruthy -- whoa, baby, I cannot WAIT to read your book, girl!! I just love the way you write!

Cheryl, you said, "But you need to strive to write EVERY first and last scene/chapter sentence as though it were your first one.

Oh, amen to that!! I usually read at night before I go to bed, so I am always LOOKING for a reason to close the book, and trust me, a boring transition does the trick!

I have to admit, though, that I never gave much thought to transitions before this post, which is pretty scary to me that I could be so unaware. I don't usually end with a hook that leads into the next chapter, but I DO try to end and begin each chapter with a sentence or paragraph that has a punch of drama (romantic or otherwise) that hopefully baits the reader to continue on. Unfortunately, in my family-saga style, it seldom connects with the next chapter.

Here's an example from my current WIP where I tried to do this. The transition (or the hook to read on) is the hero's reluctant realization he is falling in love with the heroine, who at this point is nothing more than a friend and has a boyfriend to boot.This is from , A Hope Undaunted (Katie O'Connor's story), and to set up the scene, Katie gets inebriated while out with Luke and a group of friends, and he takes her home and puts her to bed before her parents come home:

She closed her eyes and sank back into the pillow with a contented smile, sleep settling on her features as she slowly sucked on her mint.

Picking up her shoes and clothes, he tossed them in the closet, then waited for her to finish, observing the gentle shifting of those soft, full lips. Until they stilled. “Katie … are you done with the mint?”

Her chest rose and fell with the rhythm of sleep.

Luke leaned close and squinted. He sighed. Sleep was good. But not with a Life Saver lodged in her throat. “Katie,” he whispered, “Did you finish the candy?”

“Mmmm …” Her eyelids fluttered open before closing once again.

With a weary release of breath, he bent to pry a finger into her mouth and swiped her tongue. Reaching for his handkerchief, he pocketed the half-dissolved disk of candy that adhered to his finger, then leaned to press a gentle kiss to her cheek.

At his touch, her lips tilted into a dreamy smile. “Mmm … I love you, Luke McGee,” she whispered, and then rolled to her side with a soft, little snort.

He rose to his feet and stared, his heart comatose in his chest. Drawing in a deep breath, he bent to tuck the sheet tightly to her chin, finally exhaling shaky air. What he wouldn’t give to make it so. But he knew better. His lips tightened. Alcohol had a way of distorting the truth.

He bent to graze her cheek with his fingers one last time, then slowly lumbered to his feet. “I love you, too, Katie Rose,” he whispered.

And he was stone-cold sober.

Julie here: My personal feeling (or maybe I should say my hope) is that a strong beginning and end sentence for each scene can be enough to hook a reader in, even if it doesn't directly lead in to the next scene. Gulp. Or at least I hope so ...


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Ruthy!

Girl, you have helped me more times than I can count and in more ways than I could ever catch up.

I learned to write tight because my "cut" files always end up being as long as my book files. I'm a wordy bird! LOLOL!

I love the example you gave. Makes me wanna read the book NOW. LOL!

Thanks for sharing.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Melanie!

Your story sounds interesting. And all that hard work WILL pay off. Thank you for stopping by today!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Okay...I see the food just arrived. I'm on deadline and not a virtual one and didn't have time to cook....SOOOO...I had Panera's breakfast catered in.

Barge into those bagels and head for the coffee bar. There are flavored creamers and all sorts of sweet rolls rolling in as we speak...


Cheryl Wyatt said...

One more thing I wanted to mention...in the article I mentioned that strong transitions can alleviate episodic writing. But what I meant to say is that strong transitions can HELP alleviate episodic writing.

Didn't want to infer that episodic writing is only caused by weak transitions. Not the case. LOL!



Cheryl Wyatt said...

GIRLS...I forgot to mention the giveaway in the first draft. OY! I'm not awake yet I think.

Anyway, all who've left comments so far will be entered automatically.

Hugs all!

Cheryl Wyatt said...


I've read your stuff. You have great transitions. Like me, I think you're mostly an instinct writer...so you automatically put strong transitions in there.

That's the sort of subconscious stuff you pick up on when you're an avid reader I think.

Love your example too! Thank you for stopping by and sharing with us.



Walt M said...

I attended a Deb Dixon seminar in April and ended up changin a lot of the chapter endings in the manuscript I was working on. However, I'd never considered how that I could improve the flows for the beginning of the next chapter, based on the previous ending.

Great post!


milissaaustinjenkins said...

What an awesome post Cheryl, I always learn something from your posts!! God has really given you a gift. I have got to get some of your books.



Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Walt,

I LOVE Deb Dixon's model for writing. I totally use the GMC method.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy transitioning,


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Keli, forgot to say congrats for the contest final!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Milissa!

Glad it helped. I hope you enjoy my books once you start reading them.

Thanks for stopping by! Best to you in your writing endeavors too. That you are constantly willing to learn and grow is crucial. Great job! :-)


Susan Anne Mason said...


Wonderful topic. I always have trouble deciding where I should end a chapter and begin another (as opposed to just doing another scene). Now I'll have to pay more attention to the transitions. Amazing how many little things there are to consider.

Loved your last book and would be thrilled to win a giveway.
My email is sbmason AT sympatioc DOT ca.
Thanks again!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Sue! Thank you for reading my book! I'm so glad you found it worth your time.

When I'm rough drafting a book, I don't worry about this sort of stuff or getting it all right. I just strive to get it written.

I normally perfect my transitions after the book is finished. The main thing is don't let all the rules bog you down from getting the book from beginning to end. It can be overwhelming and disabling to try to get it all right as you're writing. And to try to keep everything in mind that should be executed can paralize a writer.

So if this stuff trips you up at this stage, then just go back and fix it later.

No book, and I mean no book out there is perfect.



storylady said...

Hi. Enjoyed the blog. Keeping a reader's attention is a real challenge. You want to keep them wanting to turn the page. A little lag in suspense is okay,as long as it's short. Plus adding extras or get off topic is not recommended, especially if it's a suspense novel.

Sharon Schafer

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Cheryl, what a great article. And wow, ladies, I LOVE the examples...ooo, food for thought.

May I 'transition' to a different genre for my example? I have a juvenile fantasy series with a publisher right now and at the end of each chapter I end with peril...or some kind of weird humor. My group of 9-11 year olds are reading the book chapter by chapter as I finish it and say, "How can you leave us hanging like that? Do they die?" (Joyful words to the writer's heart.)

Tia searched for her brother and caught one last glimpse of him before the spirits pushed him under the liquid grave. “Karth.”

She lifted her face to the skies, fear lodging her breath so her cries came out on a whisper.

“Father, father….where are you? Can you hear me?”

A screech pierced the darkness, shattering the haunting chant, followed by a thunderous approach of hoof beats. The beings’ hold tightened around her arms and shoulders, thrusting her forward until her knees gave way under their weight. She buckled and the heaviness of their aura pressed her face toward the water.

She turned her head, liquid chills stinging her cheek. Through the layers of shadowed wood, a red-flame slashed through the the spirits, peeling them away from it like paper from a knife.

Someone or something was coming. For her rescue? In a place like this, it was unlikely. One way or the other, she was going to die.

The flame-sword grew closer, but she could no longer fight the heaviness around her…inside of her. With one last breath, she succumbed to the lake's icy shroud.

Lynn McCallum said...

Thanks for such an insightful post, Cheryl. It is full of very helpful information. Keep up the great writing!

Patty Wysong said...

Hi Cheryl!
Such a great post! Thank you! My daughters would try to hang me by my toes if they every found out you were doing a giveaway I didn't get entered. LoL We all love your books--hooks and all. =) And I love your teaching. Thanks!

ps--I've really missed you guys over here!!

Julie Lessman said...

OOOOooo, Pepper, excellent snippet -- you had my heart racing, and I don't even read Juvenile Fantasy ... can imagine what it does to the kids!! :)


Erica Vetsch said...

This is such a good reminder as I'm deep in edits at the moment. I'm working hard to make those end and opening hooks really shine.

Thanks, Cheryl!

Lynette Eason said...

Hey Cheryl, thanks for this great reminder! I always try to begin and end with a hook/good transition but don't always succeed. However, you've spurred me on to try harder! LOL. I love reading your stuff. Here's a short blip from one of my Revell Romantic Suspense books that will be out sometime in 2010. I loved these transitions. Just wish I could think of some for the latest one I'm working on...grrr...okay, back to the cave.

Dakota sighed and stared at the innocent looking patch of grass. “If there’s one body buried around here, I suppose it’s possible there’s another.”
“Hey guys,” the call came from the grave behind them then a head popped up above the edge, “check this out.”

# # #
Jamie looked over to see Roxanne, criminalist and grave digger extraordinaire, hold up a plastic bag containing a pair of dirt encrusted handcuffs.
A chill shot through her as the memory flashed to the forefront of her mind.

He yanked her arms behind her; the cold steel snapped closed over her wrists. His masked faced shoved against hers as he whispered vile things in her ear. A swish to the side, she spun her head. Nothing. No one. Just the man behind her. The brush of rose petals against her cheek, falling to the pillow, the floor. Low, taunting laughter. The whisper, “She loves me, she loves me not…”

Breathlessness came over her as her chest closed in on her lungs. Her heart hammered in her against her breastbone and the blue sky spun above. She jammed a hand into her pocket and closed her fingers around the small metal object she always kept with her.

A hand on her arm made her jump and it was all she could do to hold in the scream clawing at her throat.
She gasped and looked into Dakota’s worried eyes. Blinking, she stumbled back and sat on the cool ground. Someone’s grave. A grave that could have been hers. She buried her head in her hands and fumbled for an explanation that wouldn’t have him calling the men in the white coats to come lock her up in the loony bin.
Sucking in a deep breath, she looked up. “Sorry, I just felt really dizzy there for a minute.”
“You looked terrified.”
A half-laugh croaked from her. “Sorry. I’m sorry.” She couldn’t seem to stop apologizing. “I don’t know what happened.” Yes, she did, but couldn’t go into it now. She pulled in a lung full of oxygen and shoved herself up into a standing position. She had a job to do. “I’m all right now.”
Uncertainty flickered on Dakota’s face as he stepped back without protest.
He now held the bag containing the handcuffs and Jamie shuddered.
She hated handcuffs.

# # #

The Hero, as he’d come to think of himself, gave a victorious smile and lowered the high-powered binoculars to his lap. She still thought of him. Her reaction to the handcuffs proved it.

Lynette Eason said...

Huh, well so much for formatting. Hope you get the idea.


Pepper Basham said...

Whoa, Lynette. I'm hooked!

I Heart Book Gossip said...

Great post. Please count me in.

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

Pepper Basham said...

Oh thanks Julie! I try to alternate between peril and humor - at the end of my most recent chapter, when challenged to combat by the high prince, the bad guy reaches into his cloak and pulls out... a wooden spoon.

The kids came to me and said... "Huh? what was that?" For fantasy, it works and the kids loved the humor of the following chapter, so I'm glad.

Oh, btw (another transition), for everyone who loves Mary - I have an interview with her on my website today to promote Montana Rose. You'll even discover her favorite dessert :-)www.pepperbasham.wordpress.com
- sorry for the commerical

Candee Fick said...

Another timely post as I'm polishing my latest manuscript. I think I do pretty good with opening hooks.

It's those ending ones that tend to elude me. My CPs keep saying "Ah, that's sweet. But no hook." I'm working on becoming a "hooker" (I can't believe I just said that. What would my mother think?)

Based on the examples shared today, I'll be in good company when I finally get this skill. :)

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Sharon,

Great points! Thank you for visiting us in Seekerville. Be sure to grab some virtual brunch while you're here.

Hope you'll drop by often.


Jill Kemerer said...

Thanks for the terrific advice, Cheryl. Transitions are hard!

Cheryl Wyatt said...


OH. MY. GOODNESS! Girl, you can write!


Are you published?

Because you should be. WOW. WOW. WOW.


Great job girl!

I'd love to read the rest asap. Well, I mean, after I meet my deadline. LOL!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

I wanted to answer Pepper's question about posting examples in other genres.

Absolutly, positively YES! It's totally fine to post examples in any genre. We love it.

ABA or CBA too.

My book is a CBA book, but this blog is also ABA focused.

Hugs all!

Don't be shy. Post some examples, either of your work or work you've recently read. Folks learn as much (if not more) from the comments as they do from the actual posts.

This is an interactive blog and we LOVE participation. We learn tons from you all too.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Lynn,

Thank you for dropping by. I'm glad you found it helpful.

Don't be a stranger, okay? Come see us often!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Patty! Good to see you back! We miss you when you're not here.

Got you entered. Tell your girls hi for me!

Next time we're at the lake, I'll give you advance warning. Then maybe I can give the girls my books (and hugs for being SO supportive of my writing!) in person. LOL!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

By the way Patty, I just LOVE the title of your blog! Patterings!

How cool is that?

Very clever. If you execute your transitions like you did that blog title, they'll be a draw for sure.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Erica,

Glad it helped and was timely. Best of luck on those edits!

Good to see you here!


Cheryl Wyatt said...


The formatting came through okay. It looks fine to me anyway. LOL!

Thanks for coming by and sharing.

Looking forward to reading the full book when it's out!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Cindy,

Got you entered. Thanks for coming by. Hope you'll drop in often!


Cheryl Wyatt said...


I thought about saying, "Happy Hooking" but wasn't sure folks would abide my morbid sense of humor.

I see you have it too. LOLOL!

My kinda girl.

Best of luck to you. If your books are as fun as your comments, you'll end up on my auto-buy list!


Pepper Basham said...

Okay Cheryl,
You and Julie have certainly given me my much needed pick-me-up for today. I'm saving your posts in my "words to read when you feel like a failure" file :-)

Nope, not published...yet - but "Someday my publisher will come" Until then, my 9-11 year old reading buddies can benefit from my attempts at cliffhangers.

For me, sometimes it seems more difficult to create well-placed emotional cliffhangers. I'm really working on those and they're tough. I think one thing that Must help is really knowing your characters and where you can place them in emotional jeapardy, distress, or intrigue. Do you think that's true?

Cheryl Wyatt said...


thanks for stopping by!

I love doing transitions and opening/closing hooks. I think that's one of the few things I DON'T struggle with as a writer.

They are time-consuming though to sit and think of sometimes. And other times they just pop right out at ya. LOL!

If you ever need help with yours, e-mail me privately and I'd be happy to take a stab at it. I love, love, love the challenge of transitions and hooks.

Thanks for stopping by! Come back often,


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Pepper, yes! The key is knowing your characters and knowing them well. Then when you're that emotionally invested, you'll have an easier time having that emotion come across to the reader and eliciting that in the reader.

Margie Lawson and Donald Maass's books and classes are two sources who I turn to often when I want to tap in and write emotion better in a book.

To make a reader care, you have to have your character be someone worthy to care about, if this makes sense. Even in their struggles give them a valiant purpose or a noble trait is one way to do it.

Best of luck! And yes, for sure, your writing has that special spark, in my opinion.

I'm thoroughly impressed with not only your voice and style but with the story.

Again I say, Great job! Keep up the good work. You're definitely on the right track.


Sarah Forgrave said...

Thanks for all the great ideas, Cheryl! I always know when I've found a new favorite author. They're the ones I love to "hate" (not really!) because they keep me up all night. I think, "I'll put it down after this chapter," and then they have another luring hook. Grrr. :-) Hopefully I can learn the masterful art of transitions in my own work.

forgravebooks (at) gmail (dot) com

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Sarah!

That's funny about the authors you love to hate. LOL!

Love it.

Got you down. Thanks for coming by...and I'm sure your hooks and transitions will be fabulous!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Pepper, that's HILARIOUS about the wooden spoon!

Oh my goodness...face hurts from laughing.

Love it!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, my stars. Lynette. Pepper. Jules...

I brought more food but burned it because I was TOO caught up in reading great excerpts.


Trying again.

Soup coming. Once I clean the debris off the bottom of the pot!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Here, Ruthy...let me help you with that.

I'm GREAT at burning stuff.





Carla Gade said...

That was a super post, Cheryl! I really got a log out of it and hope to apply some of those transition techniques.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Carla!

Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments. I'm glad you found something/s useful out of it.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Darn, I missed the paneras.

But Cheryl you do write great tips. You need to combine all of your great writing tip posts and publish a "how to" writers book. It would certainly be on my shelf.

And give workshops at conferences. You're a terrific teacher. smile

Vince said...

Hi Cheryl:

Great advice on transitions. Even in nonfiction, transitions have given me problems. But I have a question for romance writers in general:

What do you have against people sleeping? When I’m tired and its 12.55 am and I need my sleep, I always stop reading in the middle of a chapter. I’ve learned not to trust authors until the end of the chapter. : )

Please, I’ve bought the book. I have money invested in it. I’m not going to stop reading the book forever because of a weak transition.

Think about what Ben Hogan said, “slow down and smell the roses”. Betty Neels will have paragraphs of the most wonderful descriptions of interesting homes and landscapes that really don’t move the plot along. However, they do invest the reader more into the outcome. They also make for very rewarding reading.

I have a nightmare of the future romance novel as being comprised of only hooks, hooked to each other, in a long chain like silly people make out of paper clips. "Say it ain't so, Joe."


BTW, I think it would be productive to think visually for some of your transitions. The best visual transitions I’ve ever seen in a movie are found in the movie, “Mamma Mia!” This film is worth watching just for studying the transitions. Think multimedia to energize the creative juices.



I am intrigued by your writing and use of introspection. I do have three questions:

1) Is Boog a real big guy like Boog Powell?
2) Is Skeeter a version of Jeter?
3) And will the start of Chapter Three have the words “Consider us even” in italic? I just think it has to be in italic.



I really admire your passage:

She ends the chapter by thinking, "I've never been so miserable in my life." The next chapter opens the next morning with the hero whistling and thinking he'd never been happier in his life.

This passage does two things well: it’s a very good transition and it heightens the conflict between the hero and heroine. I think it is useful when possible for transitions to accomplish two goals. This is a very good example of that. Thanks.


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Sandra,

Oh man...are you sure you're not delusional? I feel like a fraud every time I write an article on writing. LOL! I still feel like such a novice and have no idea how to help others. But I love mentoring and so hopefully something I've learned (probably the hard way! LOL) can be passed on to help someone else.

I think I am a TERRIBLE teacher and public speaking is NOT my strong suit. But I'll do it if I really feel it can help someone so thanks for the confidence boost.

When someone asks me to speak, I'm like, "ARE YOU CRAZY?"

Love you!


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Vince, great thoughts as usual!

And I TOTALLY think Skeeter is Jeter. LOL! Since we all know that Ruthy thinks JETER RAWKS!

I agree about Melanie's snippet.

We have SUCH talent here in Seekerville and I'm not just talking about all the Seekers either.

Thanks for stopping by! Your comments are always thought-provoking and insightful.


Debby Giusti said...

Great info on transistions. You're right, they're so important and, when well written, keep the reader glued to the story. Thanks for showing examples that drive home the point!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Debby!

Thanks for stopping by. Your books are always hooky!


Tina Pinson said...

Good post Cheryl,

Now I have to decide if I'm leaving them turning pages or putting them to sleep.

Ya know some people need a good reason to go to sleep. I could be good for something...


No I want them to finish the book and not give themselves a nap everytime they read my story. Unless of course they fall asleep and dream of my story. LOL

Hopefully I keep them turning pages.

Here's my excerpt,

“You, liar.” He swiped the blade through the air then hit the glass table by his chair, it shattered. She jumped off the bed, ran out of the room. Long steps carried him to the corner she cowered in. She shielded her face with one arm while she tried to hold the blanket with the other.
“Please, I don’t know . . . I don’t know what you want me to say.”
That infuriated him. He cut the air with cold steel to his right then swung the sword before him. “You don’t remember Las Vegas? You don’t remember the man you pulled from the water? The man you tried to kill moments before?”
She lowered her arm and met his eyes. “I remember pulling someone from the water, he was bloody and hurt, his face was swollen, but I didn’t try to kill . . . you.”
Marcus slammed his fist to the wall above her head, causing her to tuck her head to her knees and cover her head with her arms. He tapped her leg with the sword.
“Please don’t . . . don’t. Let me go I’m not lying. Please.”
He saw her peek up at him then quickly lower her head.
Marcus groaned. Were he a cursing man he’d have a string of expletives to say. He had enough. He couldn’t break her, and he couldn’t kill her. Let the transporter do what he couldn’t.
He set the tip of the sword on the carpet. “Fine, Rita, go.” Her gaze inched up to his. “Go.”
Once the scanner didn’t read the correct code in her blood, his code, it would wait for retinal or voice verification. Without the proper clearance the computer would send out a stream of poison followed by a laser that would cut her apart then disintegrate her.
As angry as he was, Marcus was ready to yank her up from the corner and drag her there
himself. Scared and ready to leave as she was, all he had to do was point.
“You won’t hurt me?” She asked so softly, he hesitated to direct her to the door. The look of her managed to work its way into his soul again.
He shook it away and reminded himself he couldn’t be weak, she was a killer, no one would miss her.
“No, you just take that door.” He tipped the sword toward the door.
Skepticism filled her eyes.
“I’m not lying, you can go. Unlike some, I prefer to tell the truth. The gateway home is right through that door, all you have to do is take it. Say you’re year and where you want to go and you’re free.” He stepped back.
Distrust in her eyes, she rose slowly on shaky legs. She looked at the blade then him.
“Go before I change my mind.”
She finally took him at his word and raced unswervingly for the door.
Marcus thought he’d feel gratified or in the least satisfied. He felt horrible. He turned to do the unthinkable. Stop her. Stop the murderer.
“She’s an assassin,” he reminded himself even as he started for the transporter door. “She tried to kill you,” he muttered dispassionately. Still, he wasn’t like her, he didn’t have the heart to kill someone, not like this. He pulled open the door, prepared to speak and save her from the laser.
The transporter was empty.

Pepper Basham said...

Woohoo, Tina. riveting

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Wow, Tina! That is a COOL ending hook! I'm totally intrigued!

I instantly felt for your hero too. Great job endearing both characters to us.

Excellent transition!

I'd love to read more so I hope to see it in print. Keep plugging away at it, okay?


Julie Hilton Steele said...

Thanks for an informative read. I am just learning the ins and outs of fiction writing after having been in the non-fiction devotional and short spiritual writing world. I never had anything long enough for a chapter! Will continue to check in...


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Julie!

Keep checking back in. These Seeker gals are a wellspring of info.

Thanks for coming by!


Anonymous said...


I never thought of it that way. I usually just put a book down if I can't really get into it. I will have to pay more attention as I am a future writer in progress. I am really looking forward to your next book in October.
Karen (gods_princess3(at)(yahoo.com)

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Karen~

Thanks for your readership and thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with us. Hope you keep at it! We're all still learning. I still have tons of growing to do.

Come back often! We enjoy your company.


Sheila Deeth said...

Very nice example, and helpful advice. Thanks.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

late getting in the game! here's one of my transitions:

Kathy hesitated, a most unwelcome thought having entered her mind. “Are you inviting me to keep tabs on me?” It wouldn’t sit well with her if that were the reason.

Joshua pulled to a stop in front of Kathy’s apartment door and looked over at her.

One eyebrow rose, as if he was considering this.

Kathy narrowed my eyes.

“No, I’m teasing you.” Joshua ran his hand over the steering wheel. “I invited you because I honestly thought you would enjoy yourself.”

“So you won’t bring a notebook and start jotting things down?”

He laughed. “Promise.”

“Okay, then.”

“Great. I can’t wait to introduce you to the gang.”


If Kathy’d known Joshua’s “gang” included the single Who’s Who of Eureka, California, she wouldn’t have agreed to meet them quite so readily. But since she didn’t have any friends, with the exception of maybe Anna and her recently acquired “tab-keeper,” she couldn’t be picky.

and please enter me in the contest!

charactertherapist (at) hotmail (dot) com

Eli said...

Hello - I'm writing to let you know that you have been nominated for a Book Blogger Appreciation Week award for Best Collaborative Blog. Please email me at elischulenburg@gmail.com for more information about your nomination. (FYI - the deadline is Friday, August 21.) Congratulations!

Pepper Basham said...

Whoohoo! Go Seekers. That's great news for you guys! I certainly appreciate you.

Audra Harders said...

Thanks for bringing this important mortar to mind. Transitions glue your story together -- otherwise you have a bunch of uneven stones creating a haphazard walk.

You'll stumble through the story rather than enjoying a seamless flow.

I'm with you on the falling asleep at the end of a chapter only to wake up at the beginning of the next. When I attempted my first book, each chapter seemed like *a day in the life of...* and even I wanted to know when we'd get to the good stuff.

LOL! Not a good thing when our own writing bores us : )

Thanks for the reminder, Cheryl. I'm going to go check on those transition right now : )

robynl said...

would love to win a Wings of Refuge book even though I am not a writer/author.

I did understand some of the post though.

Wesfan said...

Great Post. I'm interested in the books!


Edwina said...

Excellent post! Please put my name in for the drawing!!