Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Transitioning


Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I went to the high school graduation party of a good friend's daughter. And it got me to thinking about transitions. Just one year ago, we were hosting such a party for my younger son--he's now home from his first year at college and he's different. Not better or worse, just different. He's made the transition and it shows. (This picture is from last August when we moved him into his dorm. You don't want to see what it looked like when I picked him up two weeks ago.)

And that's what transitions do--move people forward or towards a new beginning; sometimes forcibly, sometimes painlessly. And at some point, when we're going through such a change, we realize there's no going back.

I've been thinking about this with my novel-in-progress. Sometimes, I move my characters forward very incrementally--from day to day, for example, and other times I'm leaping them forward by weeks or months (or, in the case of one of my two narrative lines, anywhere from 1958-1971 and not always in chronological order). And the transitioning is mostly by instinct, by feel (or leap of faith!). And while I worried some about this, I'm finding, as I reread and edit, that the transitions work. Sometimes the two narratives are very closely linked, other times not at all, but in the big picture, the connections become clear and the characters become who they are going to be --both for themselves and for the reader.

And by the end of the draft, I know that, just like my son in his freshman year of college, the characters will have changed; they'll be further along on their way to becoming who they were meant to be, and I'll have had the pleasure of watching it all evolve. And, as I edit and revise and rewrite, I'll help polish them (sort of like I'm hoping to do with my son this summer).

6 comments:

Lisa said...

Your comments are very reassuring. Sometimes I'm afraid that I'm the only one who is pushing my characters forward without a clear roadmap of exactly how they'll get to the next milestone. I'm learning that there is a lot more to instinct than I'd originally thought. Inspiration often seems to come unexpectedly with a combination of planning and spontaneity.

Therese said...

All best wishes on both accounts!

My oldest is a rising senior; he's ready but I'm still running to catch up. *sigh*

Larramie said...

Bumpy transitions -- i.e. those that you notice in a writing -- remind me of detours which never quite lead you back to the main road. So here's to your sm-o-o-th transitions...the ones where readers sail along a well-paved thoroughfare.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lisa, instinct is one of those things I never underestimate as it has rarely failed me (in writing and in life!)

Therese, enjoy the ride with your son--senior year can be quite challenging (I say this having gone through it twice), but trust that you'll catch up eventually.

Larramie, here's to no potholes!

liz fenwick said...

Welcome to the Novel Racers.

Great post btw :-)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Now I need to get back to the race . . .