Transitions are "bridging passages" between scenes in a story. Transitions can be categorized as follows: transitions of time, transitions of place, transitions of subject, and movie jump-cut transitions.
Transitions of time are transitions like:
- "Three years later . . ."
- "After destroying the refinery . . ."
- "Two hours later . . ."
Transitions of place are transitions like:
- "When we finally reached Andromeda III . . ."
- "Meanwhile, in Cleveland, . . ."
- "Atop the hill, the Romans waited . . ."
Transitions of subject are transitions like:
- "On the other hand, . . ."
- "Consequently, . . ."
- "Despite this, . . ."
Movie jump-cut transitions are transitions effected by using:
- A "fade-in" from once scene to the next using ellipses
- A change of scene using white space between scenes
- Chapter breaks
I don't know if thinking about transitions this way is helpful for anyone; but it helps me to think of them like this, because doing so makes me realize that transitions are easy to do.
Now there's the question of where do you need transitions. Some answers are: moving in and out of flashbacks and moving into new scenes.
When do you use transitions?
- When an effective transition can replace any scene that really doesn't really advance the plot or advance character development in some fashion.
- When you want to conceal information.
For a transition to work, it should be short, logical, and unobtrusive, You don't want to jolt the reader out of his or her immersion in your story.
You can make a transition even more seamless by foreshadowing it (e.g., His orders were to meet his contact and make the transfer on the Orient Express. . . . At the train station, he spotted his contact . . . )