Thursday, February 20, 2020


Segue (SEG-way): to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene, or part to another – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I (Donis) have just written a really great scene. It really explains a lot about my character and why she does what she does. Now I need to figure out where in the story to put my scene. I know where I want to put it, but I need a really good segue. Otherwise the scene will stick out like a sore thumb.

My book-writing technique is rather like quilting. I tend to write separate scenes, like quilt blocks, and then stitch them together to form what I hope is a unified whole. Sometimes I take my scene-blocks and try different arrangements to see which makes the most beautiful/logical/suspenseful pattern. If I put this scene here, will it reveal too much too soon? If I arrange these three scenes next to one another, will that make too many pages without action or a clue for the reader to follow?

Once I have all my scene-blocks in an order that pleases me, or at least works, then I have to start stitching. I don't particularly enjoy starting on the segues. By the time I get to the “stitching” part, I've written the fun stuff, the beautiful descriptions, the exciting action, the subtle clues and red herrings. Now it's just a slog to make it all hang together.

You have to be careful with segues. You don't want to add anything to your story that slows down the action, so it's best to be minimal when all you're doing is moving from one scene to the next. Sometimes, though, while I'm slogging, I realize all kinds of things about the movement of my story. Perhaps I don't even need a segue from this scene to that one. Maybe it's better story-telling if I shock the reader with a sudden jump in the action. Sometimes the segue itself turns into another entire scene that adds a lot of color or explains things a lot better.

There is an art to it, and a science, too, to know just how much is enough and not one word more. It's a lesson I have to learn with every book I write.


Susan D said...

Absolutely, Donis. Writing and Quilting. The first time I made a quilt, a lovely sampler, I had all kinds of blocks of different sizes, and did a lot of laying out on the floor (with the help of my cat, of course) and rearranging.

At last, I realised that, as with writing, sometimes you have to kill your darlings. That is, just leave some of them out. Which I did, and the quilt is lovely and perfect. And I have seven blocks still needing a home.

Donis Casey said...

I always have extra blocks, too, Susan. They usually do find a home eventually!

Martha Knox said...

I love your books. Great titles and wonderful characters.
I agree. As a quilter and writer, the fun part is finding the pattern (outline and cover design), fondling the fabrics (rough draft craziness),
cutting the pieces and piecing the quilt top (weaving the characters, scenes, dialogue into the plot), and for me the hardest part ripping seams out that aren't right (1st draft).
Last quilting the top (editing). Nowadays, because I love piecing but hate the tedium of quilting I pay someone to quilt the top and they always do a beautiful job.
Likewise, editing and publishing are the toughest jobs in writing.

Donis Casey said...

Thanks, Martha! I love metaphors. Love how you extended mine.