Friday, October 17, 2014


by Sandy Cody

I love this time of year. Actually, I love all the seasons and am grateful that I live in an area where they are all different.

In Pennsylvania, each time of year has its own seductive charm, from the spare elegance of a bare-limbed tree in winter to the extravagant bounty of a summer garden. But my favorite seasons are spring and fall. They are less intense than the periods that precede and follow them, but to me, they are more interesting. Lacking extremes of heat and cold, the transition seasons are more gentle. They are also less predictable. Each day begins with a decision: T-shirt and shorts? A sweater and jeans? True, that’s a trivial decision, but if you don’t get it right, you’ll have an uncomfortable day. Even if you do get it right, there’s a good chance it’s just temporarily so. By mid-day, something as capricious and beyond your control as the weather may force you to regret your choice, maybe even change a decision you've made.

Transitions in novels are like that too, both in that they are more gentle (they are not the scenes of intense action, but those moments of introspection that follow the action) and less predictable (when readers wonder how characters will react to events beyond their control). These are the scenes in which the characters have an opportunity to change and grow. They have to make choices, some of which may be trivial in themselves, but they can produce unexpected results that lead to other, more difficult choices, which in turn, lead to more changes and, thus, keep the plot rolling along.

Transitions show the characters in their more reflective moments. It  is here, in the periods of less intense action, that we get to know the characters, to understand why the choices they have to make are difficult for them, maybe even identify with them. I think of these scenes as bridges - where the writer guides the story from beginning to middle to end and, if they’re good at it, they make it look easy, as natural and inevitable as the changing of the seasons.


  1. Great analogy between the seasons and transitions in our novel and its characters. as an aside, I grew up for the first 13 years of my life in Pennsylvania and I have to agree with everything you said. I always loved the bountiful snowfalls in the winter. I don;t see that as much living in NJ - except for last year in which I may have been the onoy person dancing in the snow storms. I love winter. My favorite part of snow is angling the snowblower so it covers my son as he is helping me by shoveling out the driveway opening where the plows just moved 3 feet of snow back across the apron.

  2. Thanks, Kathye. I laughed out loud at the vision of you blowing snow over your son. Sounds like you're a great mom.

  3. I love this time of year, too. I grew up in NY and New England, with their magnificent Autumns. North Carolina has beautiful autumns as well, but they tend to be short. Summer lingers until the end of Sept. and winter rolls in late in November. But October can be amazing.
    I like your analogy with writing as well. Change is what forces growth in everyone, including the characters in our books, and changing seasons and characters' reactions to them can lead us into greater depth with the character.

  4. I agree, Karen, that change forces growth and watching characters change and grow is what separates good books from lesser ones. Thanks for adding your two cents.

  5. My favorite season, and being a Mainer is a contributing factor to that! I love the golden light.

  6. So do I, Leigh, and the crispness of the air. Thanks for stopping by.