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Chapters to Explain Offscreen Events?

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Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:46 pm
OmegaEmerson says...

Okay, so my plot is about the hijacking and misuse of a classified weapon. The protagonists are the target of such, and they have to figure out who among them stole it and is trying to kill them. It's explained what the villain did by who she stole the weapon from. It's a lot of information, so I don't know if I should take a chapter after they figure out who the villain is to flashback to her journey hijacking the weapon.

Thanks for responding.

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Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:11 pm
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Kale says...

I think that if you have to rely upon a flashback chapter or ginormous infodump to explain all the hows, then that points more to a problem with how you've incorporated the evidence and speculation in the the earlier chapters, or rather how you haven't.

It's perfectly okay for other characters to figure parts of the mystery out themselves and then have another character link these parts together, referencing the other characters' contributions in their own conclusions. Rather than rehash everything in detail (which can feel pretty redundant), the character can summarize others' conclusions (which the readers would be aware of as well) and focus on detailing the links between those parts of the puzzle.

Alternatively, if you do want to go into great detail, you can go the route of the reenactment where the character who figured things out guides the other characters and the reader into piecing the parts together. This is a bit more active than the first option, so it might be the more interesting route to take.
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Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:50 pm
Rosendorn says...

I would figure out why they have to determine it in one sitting, as well. As Kyll hinted at, this sort of realization takes time and it is very rare for people to have enough time all at once to figure it out. They might get a part here, or a part there, and actually sitting down to come to this great realization— especially when there is somebody chasing them, making downtime rare and stressful— feels unrealistic.

If it's a mystery, treat it as one. String clues along. Have parts of things come together but be wrong, then have different parts come together and be half right, and generally bring in the necessary mystery tropes to make it feel like a driving force to the plot.
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Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:34 pm
Tenyo says...

Infodumping never justifies an extra chapter at the end of a novel, but there are still things you can do with it if you need to.

Perspective is a beautiful thing. The person she stole the weapon from might tell the story of what she did, but if this person is a jerk, or had equally evil motives for having the weapon in the first place, you could add a whole other dynamic to the story. You could allow the antagonist a brief moment to speak and tell the details of the story from her perspective, which would add an extra dimension to her and to the story for your reader to mull on.

Another way you could do it, depending on the style of the novel, is to have at the end an excerpt of the law enforcement's case file, and put the details of her story together by means of describing the objects and evidence within the file.

They're the best two I came up with off the top of my head, I'm sure you could think of more. As long as you give the chapter its own purpose or edge, you can make it work.

Hope this helps! Good luck with your novel =]
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