So my book starts in the middle of action, and ends on a cliff hanger. It then goes back a week in time, and builds the story from there.

Eg, in the start, the heroine is forced to free a demon, who walks to her, as if he is going to kill her. And then, the story moves back a week, and shows how she got kidnapped and forced to be on the run.

My problem is: When I come back to the scene where she frees the demon, I'm not sure how to make a smooth transition. At the moment, I just start a new scene that continues from the introduction.

The problem is, the jumps looks very sudden to me, & I'm worried the readers won't make the connection that this scene is actually after the very first scene. I'm thinking of a few ways to get around this:

  • Repeat the very first scene - Unnecessary padding
  • Give a quick summary of first scene - may look like an info dump
  • Anything else?

1 Answer 1


End the first scene with some marker that the readers will remember. A vivid sensory detail, maybe. Or an emotional reaction. A statement or quip. Something that clearly marks the situation as the first scene ends. For example, notice something peculiar about the demon's hands, something the character notices and reacts to.

When you pick up again, reconnect with that marker, quickly establish the scene, and continue. For example, make a new comment about about the demon's hands, then continue.

Pick up any three bestsellers, especially ones that rotate through different viewpoints, to see how they pick up the next scene after a cliffhanger. Notice how they mark the cliffhanger, and how they connect back to it when they continue the scene.

It's good that you're noticing the challenge. The key is that when you open the continuation, you must remind the reader where you left them at the cliffhanger. But do it quickly, and move into the new scene.

  • There was a Forgotten Realms novel where three characters are about to split up. One says "Okay, we'll meet here tonight," then the rest of the chapter follows her. The next chapter starts with "Okay, we'll meet here tonight" and follows the second character, and the chapter following that one does the same before following the third character. Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 18:08

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