Five Elements (in three to five scenes)

                        Conflict—External vs. Internal conflict




                        Resolution (Revelation)


The king died and then the queen died, is a story. The king died, and then the queen died of grief, is a plot.—E.M. Forster


Transition Hooks

Never settle for any other type of transition without first trying to use one in which an emotion is involved. Here are some examples of different types of transitions:

Emotion only

Gradually, his sadness dissipated; new hope and a growing sense of purpose stirred within him.

Time only

She started job-hunting that morning but by evening she had not yet found a position.

Time plus emotion

She felt brave and full of hope when she left the house that morning to go job-hunting; by evening she was weary and discouraged.

Place plus emotion

            When he boarded the plane at La Guardia, Fred was certain he had made a mistake in accepting the new position. An uneasy premonition of failure was still with him when they touched down at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, but as they left Denver the air turbulence seemed somehow to jolt him out of the downbeat, portentous mood that had clung to him. When he walked down the ramp at San Francisco International, he was buoyant and confident, and he knew his decision to come West had been a wise one. 

Alternative Extended-Exercise

Write a short unified piece, like the example below from Flannery O’Conner’s short story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” which begins with a summary and then shifts into the forward motion of a direct scene, makes a seamless transition that carries us to a pertinent flashback, and ends in slow motion.


Her doctor had told Julian’s mother that she must lose twenty pounds on account of her blood pressure, so on Wednesday nights Julian had to take her downtown on the bus for a reducing class at the Y. The reducing class was designed for working girls over fifty, who weighed from 165 to 200 pounds. His mother was one of the slimmer ones, but she said ladies did not tell their age or weights. She would not ride the buses by herself at night since they had been integrated, and because the reducing class was one of her few pleasures, necessary for her health, and free, she said Julian could at least put himself out to take her, considering all she did for him. Julian did not like to consider all she did for him, but every Wednesday night he braced himself and took her. 


     “I remember going to Grandpa’s when I was a little girl. Then the house had double stairways that went up to what was really the second floor—all the cooking was done on the first. I used to like to stay down in the kitchen on account of the way the walls smelled. i would sit with my nose pressed against the plaster and take deep breaths. Actually the place belonged to the Godhights but your grandfather Chestney paid the mortgage and saved it for them. They were in reduced circumstances,” she said, “but reduced or not, they never forgot who they were.”

     “Doubtless that decayed mansion reminded them,” Julian muttered.  

Slow Motion

The huge woman turned and for a moment stood, her shoulders lifted and her face frozen with frustrated rage, and stared at Julian’s mother. Then all at once she seemed to explode like a piece of machinery that had been given one ounce of pressure too much. Julian saw the black fist swing out with the red pocketbook. He shut his eyes and cringed as he heard the woman shout, “He don’t take nobody’s pennies!” When he opened his eyes, the woman was disappearing down the street with the little boy staring wide-eyed over his shoulder. Julian’s mother was on the sidewalk.


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