Many elements bind together to create a story. Characters, their goals and relationships bind to move the story forward. In my current WIP Outlaw Born, Ben finds he’s bound to his past. The bloodline he tries to deny, events that seemed insignificant when they occurred are now being seen as the stepping stones to his present life.
Writing those ‘stepping stones’ into the story as flashbacks can be a tricky ordeal. If the lead in isn’t done well the flashback can become jumbled into present thoughts. A writer must transition to and from the past and present binding the elements smoothing as if it took no effort. In reality, that one passage that seems so smooth probably took two days and 20 deleted pages to master.
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
Elmore Leonard passed on to the walk the great library in the sky just a few days ago. He’s one of my writing heroes, I’ve read many of his books. Especially his westerns, I love them. They’re gritty and real, you find yourself attached to characters you didn’t think you would like.
In those stories you barely notice transitions as you move from one element to the next. The writing easily draws you into the characters vision. You can’t always get that in the first pass. A writer has to be strong enough to use that delete key. It’s always hard to butcher the baby but it’s a sacrifice that pays off with stronger characters and emotions that will bind the reader to the story.
That is where I have been in this work in progress. Moving back and forth through scenes and plot to keep Ben on track and his pockets filled with railroad money. This week the goal is to bind time and writing in order to get two chapters written and some more clutter cleared from the house.
How do you bind your characters past and present? Do you find transitions tricky? Have any tips for transitioning scenes?