Thursday, 25 February 2010

Novel Transitions and Tie-backs - Part I

We want our stories to have continuity and flow. That's where transitions and tie-backs come in. Even when watching a movie about seemingly different lives, usually at the end, they all have one purpose or somehow their lives have crossed paths. Each character and their story ties into the theme of the work. That's transition and tie-back.

Our words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters should flow from one to the next. Every bit of your story should be related, an orderly part of the whole that can't be taken out without damaging the overall structure of the story.

How can we master transition? Two ways:
1) Think of cause and effect. Something that happens in a present scene will result in something happening in a later scene. That's why it's important to keep tract of things that happen in your plot because at the end, all the unsolved issues should be cleared up and in a way the reader least suspects.

For example, in the book Jane Eyre, references were made from the beginning about Jane's relatives and how they came from wealthy backgrounds and how some were akin to her. The reader always had that information in the back of their mind so when at the end, Jane is left with some money from her rich relatives, it didn't come as a shock, it all fit together.

2) Consider motivation. Writers who truly bring to life rich characters with personality and motivation and then give them a story that tests those motivations, it's only natural that a reaction will occur. Knowing what a character wants helps create well-rounded people in your fiction. But what’s underneath that desire to rob a bank, ski down a vertical cliff, or fall in love?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs may not seem to apply to fiction, where a character's needs deal more with getting the guy, solving the murder, or restoring family relationships. But understanding the theory can help writers get at the core of their characters.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs says that the most basic, primitive needs must be met to form a foundation before higher needs can be considered. The seven needs, beginning with the most basic, are:

* Physiological: air, food, water, sleep
* Safety: shelter, physical and financial security
* Social (Love/Belonging): family, friendship, acceptance in a group
* Esteem: confidence, respect, acknowledgement
* Self-Actualization: morality, wisdom, personal potential
* Cognitive: acquire and understand knowledge
* Aesthetic: appreciate and create beauty and structure
What Really Drives a Character?

With these basic needs in mind, writers can deepen their characters by determining how the things a character wants (revenge, romance, a promotion, to solve a mystery, to hold a marriage together) are caused by what he or she really needs.

* A bully doesn’t pick on someone just to be mean. Does it make him accepted with his friends? Is the other worker is a threat to his job? Does he think he’ll be seen as powerful if he forces someone into submission?
* Is the village wise woman completely altruistic in helping others, or does she need the acknowledgment of others or the self-respect that comes with giving advice? Does she need the empowerment and control the position gives her? The status within her group?
* And does the corporate power broker simply enjoy the challenge and excitement of business, or does he need the outward show of respect to feel accepted? Or is he driven to success to make up for a past failure?

Writers Know More than Characters

It is important to note, however, that just because a writer knows the character’s deepest needs does not mean that the character realizes it. A woman who was shoved to the background for years while her sister dealt with cancer won’t connect that experience with her need for belonging and her desire to be the life of the party now. But you as a writer know that, and you can let that understanding come out in other ways.

Source: Read more at Suite101: Deeper Character Motivation:

What is the benefit of reading in Google Reader vs on the Blogger dashboard?

Also, here are some really cool blog articles I read yesterday:
1) Courtney Vail from Journeys in Ink talked about where we can find great plot ideas.
2) Charmaine Clancy showed us the important of having good web sites for our books.


J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm now at the point(especially for the romance novels) where I make a heading for my two mc's and write down their needs and what motivates them to act the way they do. Also, how their individual needs cause conflict with their love interest. Noting these things helps me keep track of how each character grows as the story unfolds.

Kimberly Franklin said...

Thanks for sharing, Ann. Great as usual!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing! Brilliant post!!! You're always so insightful I love it!

Helen Ginger said...

Good post and I appreciate the examples. Thanks.

Straight From Hel

Patricia Stoltey said...

Ann, please stop by my blog when you have time

I have an award to share with you.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Ann I enjoyed reading through your posts and today's was very inspirational for me (plus you linked to my blog - big thank you for that!). What better climax in a story than to appeal to the character's primary need of air, food, shelter or sleep - that would get the urgency happening!
Thanks for a great post :-)

Ann Elle Altman said...

Joy, well, I know from reading your characters that you must put a lot of time into them.

Kimberley, thank you.

Jen, glad you liked it.

Helen, it took some time trying to find appropriate examples. My minds been a fuzz lately.

Patricia, thanks for the award.

Charmaine, I truly enjoyed your blog post.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Hi Ann,

How did I miss this fantastic blog of yours?! Oh well, oversight remedied, I'm now a follower! Thanks for your comments on my blog btw, I'll be back to read more of your stuff!


Southpaw said...

I've just now been working on this. I had to go back and sneak in some clues.

Unknown said...

Excellent your blog, congratulations!

Thank you for being together. You are worth gold, and this special moment, has a gift for you on our blog. I hope you enjoy.



Ann Elle Altman said...

Karen, glad to have you as a follower... hope you enjoy the posts.

Southpaw, love your bear pic and hope you can find some useful bits of info.


Bisi Adjapon said...

Ann, your energy is incredible. Good job putting all this together.

Bisi Adjapon said...

You're right about the author knowing more than his or her characters. I don't think about all the above consciously, but I realize that's what I do :).

Thank for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Ann, your blog is getting better and better. I love this because it's exactly what you told me - a place to keep all your writing tips for yourself. I'm beginning to see my blog in the same way - and may open a few private blogs for my novels. For the notes. The timelines/storyboards can be taped to my door.

I get so much out of these tips of yours - and your Shakespeare sonnets. Thanks for taking the time on this!

Google Reader is better because it lets you divide into folders per days. I talk about that more in my latest post.

:) Corra

from the desk of a writer

Ann Elle Altman said...

Bisi, thanks for your comments and I don't know if i have much energy left.

Corra, Thanks for the comment and I will check out your latest post for more info.