Is “meanwhile” the Magic Word of Writing?

Hey there!! It feels like forever since I’ve posted! Sorry about that but life…ugh…don’t you just hate it when life interrupts your blog time? LOL!!! Ah well. Luckily I have been working on my novel…well I call it a novel but actually it’s more like a massive writing exercise I’ve been doing for five years.

It started as a free writing exercise I did about five years ago and during times when I don’t have any projects going on I pull it out and add to it. It’s gotten so long now I’ve realized that it is practically a novel in and of itself so I’ve been going back through it to see if I can make it work as a novel. It’s actually a really interesting exercise but one of the hardest things for me to write are the transition pieces that connect scene to scene and chapter to chapter.

Sometimes I just say “forget the transitions” and start a new chapter, but you can’t do that too often or your book will end up being 100 pages filled with 300 chapters. I like for my transitional pieces to be smooth and for one scene to just sort of flow naturally into the other but in many cases it just feels wrong to me. I read an article somewhere that said that the best way to combat a difficult transition is the usage of the word “meanwhile”. The basic principal was to use the word “meanwhile” when you were undecided as to how to move from one scene to the next.

Making my scene shifts have a workable rhythm is one of the hardest parts of writing for me

Give your scene shifts a smooth rhythm

Example:
Chad didn’t know where to go from here. His father was dead, his home a pile of rubble. The only things he had left were an old scorched picture and a goldfish.
Meanwhile in a shopping center across town Kerri wondered if life could get any better. She had a sweet ride, a credit card, and a father who didn’t ask questions.

Without the word “meanwhile” in between those two bits of scenes, it would’ve felt a bit slap-dash and there wouldn’t have been much of a flow. However, that one word added in it allows for a fluid movement between the scenes and also adds an interesting thematic juxtaposition between the characters’ lives.

Meanwhile= The Writer’s HOCUS POCUS!!

Some might say that “meanwhile” is the magic word of writing and true, there is something a bit magical in the word’s ability to pack so much practical usefulness and potential thematic depth in one word but you can take it too far. When I started off using “meanwhile” to help with my scene shifts I felt great…but then I read back over what I had written and…oh dear. I realized that I had used the word so much that it was almost laughable. A small part of my mind half expected to turn the page and read MEANWHILE AT THE LEGION OF DOOM (I tried to just add a pic of the Legion of Doom headquarters but my computer wouldn’t let me, the video was all I could find)!!!

How do you like to transition? Do you use “meanwhile”? Do you like to add a chapter or page break? What are some techniques you’ve found?

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the day: Looking for a Haunt
For this exercise I want you to imagine that you or one of your characters has just died and has become a ghost and are now looking for a place to haunt. How would you decide which place to haunt and what would you do to haunt the house? Are you a poltergeist (a playful ghost? Are you a friendly ghost? Are you a vengeful ghost? Why?
See you around!

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9 Comments

Filed under Books, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Ideas, Imagination, Literature, Nanowrimo, Novel Writing, Novels, Playwriting, Plot, Reading, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

9 responses to “Is “meanwhile” the Magic Word of Writing?

  1. Definitely a friendly and helpful ghost. Like in Randle and Hopkirk. I’d find myself an office somewhere, and be the detectives right hand woman:) Hopefully that won’t be for some time yet…

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    • I think that if I died now I’d be a happy or helpful ghost, but who knows? Maybe sometime in the future I’ll get betrayed and become an evil ghost. We read about them in books and see them in so many horror movies and it makes me wonder what kind of betrayal could happen to me to transform me into one of those ghosts? Thanks for reading!!

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  2. I’d probably have my character possess a contractor, manipulate his cerebellum to the point that he is compelled to rebuild the Borley Rectory in England. Just so he could haunt that.

    After that, I have him disembody, and start throwing rocks at people on the “nun’s walk.”

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  3. Ha–love that bit from Family Guy!

    Well…my protagonist does die, and the last bit of her clings to the man she loves due to their metaphysical connection (which would be too crazy to try and explain here, but it’s cool/interesting/meaningful/deep…at least I hope.) There’s more to it than that, but it was cool to write. 🙂

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  4. I do use meanwhile when summarizing stories. But in the actual story, I use chapter or scene breaks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Now I’m going to have Stewie stuck in my head all day reminding me I should be writing my novel. I have a hard time with transitions too. (See what I did there?)

    Liked by 1 person

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