Sometimes, you may want to indicate to the reader that something has changed – either in scene or in the way the story is being presented. A common example of this would be when you shift location or when an important character departs the story for a while.
You may want to use a technique known as “signification” to make this apparent to the reader. This is a method of foreshadowing that involves using small clues to foreshadow an upcoming change in the story. This article will discuss ways in which you can use signification to effectively change scene in your creative writing.
The Need For Signification
As the name suggests, signification is used to signify a change in scene. However, as mentioned above, this can also be used to foreshadow an important change in the story. It is thus entirely possible to use signification to effectively pull the reader out of the story and into the next scene. This is an extremely useful tool in your arsenal as a writer, as it allows you to catch the reader off-guard and keep them guessing what is to come.
Try, Test, And Error
When creating a story, you will inevitably make mistakes. Even legendary authors like Tolstoy and Dickens made mistakes while writing their stories. However, these mistakes can ultimately help you become a better writer. The key is in learning from these mistakes and trying to incorporate what you’ve learned into your next story. When these authors wrote “A Christmas Carol,” for example, they likely knew it was the last novel they would write. They nonetheless decided to go ahead and experiment with a new technique known as the “cyclic structure.” This is a technique where the story is told in a way that parallels the seasons: winter, spring, summer, and winter again.
Through this technique, they were able to effectively show the progression of time within the story through the four seasons. They were also able to show the transition of one setting to the next without requiring the reader to mentally keep track of where they are in the story. The end result of this is that the reader is able to follow the story effortlessly, without needing to pause to remember where they are in relation to the overall narrative.
Use The “S” Word
For those of you who are writing in the third person, you have the added advantage of using the “s” word. This is a hugely effective device for quickly and effectively bringing about a scene change. As the story unfolds, you will inevitably discover that something important happens that requires you to quickly move to a different location. One of the best scenes in Richard Fleischer’s 1979 film, “Rocky III,” is where Sylvester Stallone’s character switches from a helicopter to a paddy wagon after being involved in an accident.
This device allows you to effectively show a change of setting without having to physically move the reader to the next location. It’s a simple yet very effective trick that allows you to maintain the illusion of continuous story-telling while still managing the scene changes effectively.
Cut To The Heart Of The Matter
Sometimes, you will discover that there is a lot of extraneous material that gets in the way of the story. In those cases, you have the option of either removing it or rewriting it. In both cases, you will want to strive for greater narrative economy – which, at its core, is a collection of tightly related events strung together into a compelling story. When you bring your attention to the story itself and remove everything that is not essential to its telling, you will be able to create a much more coherent narrative that is ultimately more enjoyable for the reader.
The “S” In “SC”
The “S” in “SC” is an abbreviation for scene. In cases where you are referring to a specific scene within a story, you can use this abbreviation to help the reader keep track of where you are in the narrative. As you work through each draft of your story, you will discover key scenes where you want to use signification to effectively change scene. When you do this, you will want to use the “S” in “SC” as a mnemonic device, as it will help your reader quickly recall the location of the scene.
When Do You Need To Change Scene?
Ultimately, you will want to use your own judgment when deciding when to change scene in your story. Sometimes, you may want to change scene after a set number of pages, sometimes you may want to change scene after a set number of chapters, and sometimes you may want to change scene after a certain amount of time has elapsed. The key is in finding the right combination of these elements that, when combined, create the perfect setting for your story’s climax.