IN 2009, BETHANY HOUSE published my book, Pirate Hunter, which is a novel composed of two stories—one historical and one contemporary—that echo and parallel one another but never quite intersect.
To distinguish the two, I wrote the historical story in third-person, and kept the contemporary story in first person. But that still left the issue of how to go from one story to the other without jarring the reader.
And, to accomplish that, I used a technique from cinema—a technique known as a match cut.
A match cut echoes an element from one scene with a similar element from another. The classic example is comes at the close of the first scene in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." In that match cut, a ancient primitive man uses a bone as a weapon; he tosses it into the air in victory, and it is replaced by a futuristic space station in earth orbit.
Match cuts can also be more subtle. One often used by filmmakers is to move the camera from a cityscape up to the clouds or sun above the city, and then bring the camera down from the sky to the next setting—say, the countryside.
To accomplish something similar in fiction, I closed the first chapter of Pirate Hunter with a historical character being asked a question, and then opened the second chapter (300 years later) with a contemporary character attempting to form an answer to the same question.
Or, at the end of another chapter later in the same book, the historical character is tossed off a dock into the sea, and the following chapter opens with the contemporary character having just leapt into the water on a scuba dive.
The technique worked well. Readers told me they never felt confused by the transitions. And more than one reader told me that part of the fun of reading Pirate Hunter was wondering what match-cut I would use to make the next temporal shift.
Cinema uses many techniques that are borrowed from literature. But the match cut is proof that, occasionally, there is a film technique that works equally well in a book.