Tying Related Scenes Together With a Common Element

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is a zany tale about an apocalypse gone wrong. As might be expected from a novel about the end of the world, Good Omens features a giant cast and multiple interconnected narrative threads. When you have so much going on, how do you keep the reader oriented?

One way is through reoccurring elements. For example, set of scenes involves the angel Arizaphale as he sits down to read a book of prophecies. The scenes are nicely tied together with  a cup of cocoa.

“Steady, steady,”Arizaphale muttered to himself. He went into the little kitchenette and made himself some cocoa and took some deep breaths.
Then he came back and read a prophecy at random.
40 minutes later, the cocoa was still untouched.

There are several intervening scenes, and then the next Arizaphale scene starts with the line.

Arizaphale’s cocoa was stone cold...

A few more scenes, and then the next scene begins:

The cocoa was a congealed brown sludge half filling the cup.. .

And then the last scene in this series:

The cocoa had nearly all solidified. Green fur was growing on the inside of the month.
There was a thin layer of dust on Arizaphale, too

Can you think of other uses for recurring elements, or alternate ways to tie related scenes together?

1 comment:

  1. The thing that strikes me is that the elements that tie together the complexities should be very concrete, very simple. We SEE the cup. Like your posts, which are short enough that I actually remember them!