(To survey other elements and author quotes, visit the Elements of Fiction home page)

“The efficient and elegant writer makes each scene bear as much as it can without clutter or crowding, and moves by the smoothest, swiftest transitions possible from scene to scene.” John Gardner

“Don’t let your seams show.” Ayn Rand

“Transitions are the friction points between bearing surfaces—scenes and chapters.” Philip Gerard

“A space break is not a transition; it represents the absence of a transition.” Philip Gerard

“A transition fills in the gaps between discrete scenes, bridges the distance between then and now, here and there.” Philip Gerard

“The magic lies in creating that illusion of completeness—and it’s the same illusion in both fiction and nonfiction: persistence of vision.” Philip Gerard

“A graceful transition often requires a good hard look at the logic of the story: What would such a person really do? What would the next event be in real life? Does nature really behave this way?” Philip Gerard

“Scenes have a lot of work to do. Not only do they have to advance the work of fiction in terms of action, character, and theme, but they require a solution to the problem of transitions. These fictional scene dividers may be of an infinite variety and should, of course, be made as inconspicuous as possible.” William Sloane

“When transitions become an integral part of the action they do many things. They show the passage of time: ‘Three hours later we were still at it.’ They interpret the setting as part of the action: ‘The big room, when she entered, was being made ready for the solemn occasion.’ They even characterize: ‘In his usual aimless fashion he had neglected to provide for their arrival.’” William Sloane

“Scenes can be constructed so that no transition is needed. If the reader can find his way quickly enough into the new scene he will made his own transition.” William Sloane

“A brief transitional scene might show Pigtoe driving down Lipes Ridge Road (or whatever) toward the junction of the state highway and the interstate. We get some of Pigtoe’s thoughts, sharp images of how he drives the truck, and above all a dramatized movement from one world to another.” John Gardner

“At the beginning of a story, in the usual case, we find the writer using either long or medium shots. He moves in a little for scenes with high intensity, draws back for transitions, moves in still closer for the story’s climax.” John Gardner

“Dramatization serves as the emphasis of your story. The key events should be dramatized. The less important material, such as transitions, can be narrated.” Ayn Rand