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Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:58 pm
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BlueFeltrix says...



As a few of you may know, I've been writing a novel called the Myriad. In it, I rotate between four protagonists, each getting a chapter: Corso, Thørn, Nyx, and Alsari. Corso and Thørn basically had normal lives up until the book starts, but Alsari and Nyx had long and interesting histories. I want to show that in a way where they actually narrate the things that happened, but I can't decide how to do that. The thoughts that I've come up with are Flashback, where I make, say, every other Nyx or Alsari chapter about their past. The problem with this is that I'm worried it might disrupt the story and give Alsari and Nyx less perspective on what's going on. I've also considered just making a prequel, but I also kind of want the backstories to happen inside the story. Any suggestions are appreciated, including anything I haven't thought of.
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Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:22 pm
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Rosendorn says...



Start the story earlier.

If you have plot-relevant information that is so critical to understanding the plot that you feel the need to have constant flashbacks, that's a sign you have started the story too late. The key to a good beginning is making it as late as possible until readers can't understand what's going on, so if you feel readers won't understand anything without Alsari and Nyx unless they see their background, you've started it too late.

If you get bored at the thought of writing it as early as it takes to understand the background events, or feel the story itself will start breaking the 100k mark, then you either make a prequel, add in the flashbacks, or cut the concept of including their backstory.

Readers don't have to know long and interesting histories, even if they are plot relevant. In the Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce, there is a huge background event that sets up a major conflict in a book... and we never find out the details other than "[major character] had a falling out with [highly powerful politician on another continent]" because that's all we needed to know to understand the book. We're getting prequel novels over a decade later, and these novels answer the question of what happened.

If we don't absolutely positively need to know what happened in order to understand the plot, consider point blank cutting it. Including every relevant piece of information can be fun (says the person writing a fanfic that easily tops out half a million words because said fanfic covers all the things), but in a story you're writing to get published, it's not realistic.

You can make it into a plot device (a la Looking for Alaska) or you can just decide that no matter how interesting, if it's not the steak of the plot, it's not getting included.
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Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:34 pm
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Holysocks says...



I agree with Rosey.

Flashbacks are something in books that I really dislike. You're right; it disrupts the story. I don't want to know what happened ten, five, or even two years ago- I want to know what's happening right now in the story that I am investing my time in. History is history- it happened. It's done. There's zero suspense for the reader!

Now, if they were very short flashbacks, and they weren't TOO common, it might work. But when I say short, I mean like 200 words MAX. Maybe I'm just incredibly bias!

In the end, do what feels right to you. If you think your story truly does need flashbacks, and you enjoy writing them- GO FOR IT! There is nothing wrong with that- you are the writer, after all, and you decide what your story needs and what it doesn't.

However I also agree with Rosey about starting your story earlier. My favourite writing advice is something like: "Start at the beginning", "Start when the story starts." You might find that the story really does start earlier than you originally thought. And this advice can go both ways; sometimes people start their stories WAY too early, before the story starts (usually it's when the MC wakes up in the morning and we have to endure their breakfast routine, and then their routine at school, etc etc).

Anyway, that was just my rather opinionated two cents. Best wishes! C:
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Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:45 pm
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CaptainJack says...



Flashbacks can either be really, really good or just set the mood off for everything. But I still really like to use flashbacks even though you're walking a tightrope with them, so here's one possible suggestion.

I like to have flashbacks as one character explaining past events to another character. My entire current novel is a type of flashback, where there is one event in the future and the rest is told through retrospect. If you're wanting to break it up through out the book, it may be easier to slip into them using this method. Having a character relate part of their backstory that somehow relates to something that just happened.

Basic example:
Two characters see a dog.
Character #1 thinks about how some dog in their life impacted them now.
Character #1 relates this memory piece to Character #2.
Character #2 and the audience will now (hopefully) understand the character better.

That's a kind of cheesy way to explain it but the easiest wording. In the end, it all comes down to the transitions, and how you're working a character towards this new point. There also comes in the possibility of nightmares and dreams, where a character is reliving certain moments from their past through the dreams. Nightmares (if the scene is nightmare material) are something I find easier to integrate into a work, because the fear is easier understandable as a recurring dream, compared to a happier memory.

Hopefully that made some sort of sense and/or helps you in some way.
  





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Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:39 pm
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BlueFeltrix says...



Thank you all for your input! I feel like it would be a bit out of place to start the story earlier, since it's not essential to the plot and they both happen roughly a century before the book begins. What I may do is add the odd flashback for Alsari, who has a more interesting backstory, and just explain Nyx's history. Still, keep the suggestions coming!
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Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:18 pm
Holysocks says...



Something I just thought of... there's no reason you couldn't write some short stories/flash fiction to go along with your story. Maybe that's a little odd, but I kinda like the idea. For instance, the novel I'm working on was inspired by a flash fiction that I wrote last year. There's no reason why you can't tell the story in multiple forms.

I mean I guess that's not really a linear idea for a novel, but just a thought!

Also, nothing is written in stone; if you write the flashbacks, and don't like them, or want less of them, or want MORE of them you can take some out or add more! That's a beauty of writing- it's like clay, you can play with it and mould it how you want and take pieces away if it doesn't fit, and add more if something is lacking. So don't be afraid to write stuff, even if it's just for your own pleasure, or as an experiment or whatever! C:
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