Alexander McCall Smith’s short story “No Place to Park” starts at a writers' festival in Western Australia. A panel at the festival is leading a discussion on crime fiction. There are two authors of crime fiction debating, more or less, a literary critic. The critic suggests creating a story centered on “commonplace” events, like parking violations. After the critic issues this suggestion, Smith introduces one of the panel authors, George Harris, for the first time. It appears as if Harris is seriously considering writing a crime novel tied to parking offenses.
The panel helps bridge the divergent ideas about crime fiction because it naturally brings together contrasting perspectives. By setting the first scene at a place where varying viewpoints come together, Smith can easily move—transition—from multiple interpretations. He can go from the opinion of the critic (crime fiction is too extreme) to the response of one of the unnamed authors (dismissive) to the subtle, serious reply of Harris.
Due to the transitory nature of literary conferences, each person gets to give their take on the state of crime fiction. They’re at a place where people gather briefly, present their perspectives, and then move on.
Of course, after the conference, Smith literally transitions to Harris’s life and shows how Harris tries to incorporate the critic’s idea into his next book. It’s possible to say that Smith pulls off this transition smoothly. He goes from Harris thinking about the idea at the conference to Harris trying to implement the idea back home at Cottesloe Beach. The only tool that Smith really requires is a gap between paragraphs to mark the location change.