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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments In the story I'm writing my characters have just met a man who is about to reveal very important information that will act as the springboard for the rest of the story (at least that's the concept in a nut shell). To reveal this information I first immediately wrote a flashback where the reader actually gets the firsthand experience of what happened but it's as the characters are having the story told to them. I'm not sure if I should go with the flashback or just write the man telling them it.

If I use the flashback it's good because it's a more exciting way of telling the story and the character telling it is extremely quiet, soft spoken, and I just think a flashback would be much more interesting.

But I know flashbacks tend to be avoided because "it's old news" and I guess if the man is telling a brief, watered down version to the characters then the reader should have the same experience? Also just having present dialogue is much faster. I'm leaning toward not doing the flashback but I'd like some input :]


message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weldon (SarahRWeldon-author) | 5638 comments You could try writing a prologue, but leave the readers dangling at an important event... which makes it compulsory to read on.


message 3: by ShazzyLouLou (new)

ShazzyLouLou | 272 comments I'm also struggling with this. At the moment I'm going with the flashbacks. It makes sense in my story as one is a dream and another is a memory brought on by a current event. The memory one is quiet crucial to the story but is not used to convey anything to the other characters, it's more for the readers and will become part of a journey of self discovery for the owner of the memories. I am conscious of not doing too often though... It's a toughie, I agree!


message 4: by Ingrid, The Return Of Super Woman, Head Moderator (new)

Ingrid | 824 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "In the story I'm writing my characters have just met a man who is about to reveal very important information that will act as the springboard for the rest of the story (at least that's the concept ..."

flash backs are better. but if it's a mystery story or detective story i am pretty sure that might not be what your readers need to here. if its suspense only leave out the smaller facts. otherwise maybe the flashback is okay. your choice:)


message 5: by Irene, Moderator (new)

Irene | 2499 comments Mod
Have you tried writing it out mutiple ways? Take the section you have issues with and write it as just a dream, just a flashback, and then with both and then not at all but with a proluge as Sarah suggested. Of course I understand that you may not be able to do this but maybe you could plan it out and see what you like?


message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments @Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is telling the other characters about something that happened to him years ago and like I said he's so soft spoken and meek that he wouldn't give a fully fleshed summary of the story, but just important details. Without the details, though, I'm wondering if the story sounds "too convenient" if that makes sense.

@Irene: When I was writing the first draft I immediately wrote the flashback version because that was much more fun and easier to write. I think maybe I could write it with just the dialogue today and see what my family and I like better.


message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weldon (SarahRWeldon-author) | 5638 comments Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is telling the other characters about..."


Lol I sometimes have to rewrite my prologue, like on the last novel and on the House of Death too! My story is moved 7 years into the future right after the prologue so I have no choice.


message 8: by Irene, Moderator (new)

Irene | 2499 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is telling the other characters about..."


Maybem something dramatic happens to him that triggers the memory and some how he ends up telling about it all infront of a bunch of people?


message 9: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments Sarah R wrote: "Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is telling the other char..."


Yeah I have a prologue for this story too. Originally it was different but then I realized I had to rewrite it. :p


message 10: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments Irene wrote: "Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is telling the other char..."


Hmmm well I don't think he's that kind of character, you know? The thing is the character who's telling this story is a bit reluctant to tell it, so his son brings the main characters to him and asks him to tell the story. The man telling the story suffered a severe trauma and didn't speak for years, and now he's just starting to talk again and all the secrets are coming out.


message 11: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments Jen wrote: "Sarah R wrote: "Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is tellin..."


What kind of story are you writing? :)


message 12: by Irene, Moderator (last edited Jun 21, 2012 09:46AM) (new)

Irene | 2499 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "Irene wrote: "Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character is telling ..."


Just a thought, and here's another. Sometimes when someone has a flashback that meets the medical term flashback (such as seen as those with PTSD) they can not control the memories that invade thier thoughts or what they say/do. Not always does it invoke comprehensible speech but sometimes it does.


message 13: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments Irene wrote: "Jen wrote: "Irene wrote: "Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. They character..."

That's interesting. The flashback in this story would be for the reader's benefit. Since the characters would be told the story firsthand they wouldn't actually be witnessing the flashback. If they aren't actually witnessing the flashback, only being told the story should I cut the flashback out? Is it okay to keep the flashback, even if it's not part of the characters' experience? I just feel like it's more interesting with a flashback. I hope this makes sense to you and I'm not confusing you all lol.


message 14: by Irene, Moderator (new)

Irene | 2499 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "Irene wrote: "Jen wrote: "Irene wrote: "Jen wrote: "@Sarah: I can't make it in the prologue. The characters absolutely cannot find out until that exact moment.

@Ingrid: It's a high fantasy story. ..."


Right. IF it is in first person then the readers would be inside your characters head as it happens so they se it. If it is not in first person I have no idea, I guess you should probably cut it.


message 15: by Meg (new)

Meg | 4 comments have you thought of doing both? It depends on the perspective of your story and the narrative distance... but if you're doing a third person omniscient and you bounce from head to head, you could overlap his memory with his words....having the flashbacks in italics to separate them. You might be able to create a fun contrast between the intensity of the actual experience and the toned down language he uses.

like...
[i] His eyes were wild and blood shot, his mouth contorted in feral rage [/i]
"He didn't look pleased," said the character

just a thought.


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper (PirateGhost) I don't know... I'm probably not as accomplished as other writers here. For me, to flash back, or not to flash back isn't really the question.

I get that you don't want to travel "old ground" in new story, but, that's not really the point of a flashback is it? I mean, has anyone (readers) seen, or read that information somewhere else in the story? Is it a recap of some historical event that everybody is familiar with? Most of the time I flash back, the flash back is as much "historical fiction" as the main setting of the novel is current action.

Last time I checked, historical Fiction is a valid genre or category of fiction. Why not within the same book.

I'd say this. If you want examples of how to flash back, read some Tim Powers. I particularly like Declare the entire book is a collection of flashbacks. Or maybe Katherine Kerr's "Eight."

I think the main idea is that you have to decide if the back story is compelling enough to give equal billing to the current story (or greater priority). Sometimes the flashback has the best parts of the story.

If you write a story that jumps from present to past and back regularly, if you can confuse readers. (again, it is important that it's a fresh story (or part of the story) just set in the characters past, and if it should have the same priority and importance in the readers minds as the story thread in the present, less, or more.


Does what happen in the past directly effect the story thread in the present? I mean, you could write great adventure about the guys child hood adventures and how that "Shaped him." But does that really matter? How many lines or pages is that worth (even if it is fresh story).

Yet, I think if your worried about too much flash back. Try reading just the flash backs... if they make a good story and read, and are directly important to the present story thread... don't get hung up on silly thumb rules about flashing back or not. Just write it. At worst you can have a pre-quill just waiting to be released after the main story is a big hit right?

(again, the flash back should be story, not filler or, solely used for the purposes of explaining things in the story present if you want more of it in your writing. If all you want to do is give some explanation and understanding of what's going on with the characters, then less may be more. (better a good scene where they all gather at the bar telling stories than a flash back).

If the flash back is as open and "Fresh" and captivating as the main setting of the story...then, I don't think you can have "too many flash backs."


message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weldon (SarahRWeldon-author) | 5638 comments I read flashback as Daphne Du Maurier's opening lines 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.'
I loved that book Jamaica Inn too!


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper (PirateGhost) I like Andrew N. Annand's poem

Dreams

Once I dreamed that I could fly
and in my dream I flew.


message 19: by Sarah (last edited Jun 22, 2012 06:12AM) (new)

Sarah Weldon (SarahRWeldon-author) | 5638 comments Curmudgeon wrote: "I like Andrew N. Annand's poem

Dreams

Once I dreamed that I could fly
and in my dream I flew."


Like the little sparrows nesting in my garage, they dreamed they could fly, some of them prematurely unfortunately for them. Sad, their numbers are declining rapidly, they made a hell of a mess my freezer was right underneath the nesting place and I had to cover it with plastic!


Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper (PirateGhost) Sarah R wrote: "Curmudgeon wrote: "I like Andrew N. Annand's poem

Dreams

Once I dreamed that I could fly
and in my dream I flew."

Like the little sparrows nesting in my garage, they dreamed they could fly, some..."


Something tells me we need to practice focusing on the spirit of the rule, not so much the messy details of following through with it... nuts and bolts always get messy...I'd rather interpret clouds ...sometimes.


message 21: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (SherritheWriter) | 22 comments Stick with the flashback, but keep it as streamlined as possible. As long as you only do it once, it could work. But I wouldn't pepper these throughout the story.


message 22: by Jen (new)

Jen | 53 comments Thanks for the input everyone. :]
I actually wrote the scene without the flashback and found that it was much better after all. I have the flashback scene saved just in case but for now I'm sticking with the present day version


message 23: by Irene, Moderator (new)

Irene | 2499 comments Mod
Glad you got it figured out?


message 24: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jessicalynxo) This topic has been archived as of 5/4/2013.


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