1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    A chapter for forshadowing. Pointless?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, May 12, 2010.

    I just got done writing a chapter that doesn't really advance the plot of the present book, only planting seeds for a future story. In the chapter, the main character learns that his friend, at one point, had a sister who died and he blames himself by speaking remorsefully.

    I remember reading somewhere that unless a chapter either a) advanced the plot or b) developed a character, then it was pointless.

    I don't think that chapter is wholly pointless in that we do learn a bit about the main character's friend and (hopefully subtlely) forshadowed a future story that details this tragic moment in the character's past as a sub-plot.

    Of course, I also heard that it's better if executed properly. The way I did was via the main character waking up to a tapping sound. He searches for the source, can't find it and asks the friend who momentarily flips out going, "I've done it with her many, many times and I'm not going to do it with you!" (It takes place during the night, and the friend concludes that the main character is afraid of the dark/being alone.) At the end, the friend calms down and mutters to himself saying, "I...I can't. I can't." before telling the main character to just go to sleep.

    I don't know if it's too obviously a forshadowing or not. My instincts tell me it probably is.

    So, what are your opinions? :D
     
  2. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you are advancing the plot if you're laying seeds for a future story. Do you mean that the future book is part of a series?

    I agree, generally, that one must try not to write anything that neither develops character or moves on the plot. But, it's nice to add a layer of mystery. The reader might wonder if the scene is this relevant or not to the current plot. If it isn't immediately relevant, so what? What's the loss?

    When reading a novel, I don't often look back on what I've read and wonder if what I've been told in the beginning was fleshed out later on in the book. I know some people feel cheated when loose threads aren't nicely tied up at the end. I think there's likely to be an equal amount of readers who like to be left guessing.

    I don't think the forshadowing is obvious. It's likely to be a lot less obvious to a reader than it is to you because you're aware of where the story is going. They can only speculate.

    I'd have to read it I suppose, but the concept sounds pretty safe to me.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Good point, Peerie Pict. If the future story is part of the series, then yes having that chapter would be advancing the plot.

    I guess it could be relavant if, after the little blow-out where we learn of a deceased sister, the two begin to discuss whatever the current plot is about. Then it wouldn't be totally random.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but if a chapter is only laying the seeds for another book, it does not belong.

    It's one thing to scatter a few seeds throughout the text of the book, but an entire chapter is way too much. Everything in the book should advance the plot or characters of the current book, and even character advancement should be relevant to the current story. Even the scattered seeds should be relevant, even if only peripherally so.
     
  5. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're right Cogito, it's all about degrees and striking a balance I guess.

    Link maybe you could limit it to a 'scene' rather than a chapter? The way you've described it, it actually sounds quite brief. You should keep it but yes, have the characters draw the reader back into the current plot before it goes off into a tangeant.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I see. I see. I think I'll do that. That's all in one scene in a chapter. (Of course, that scene went from the forshadowing to talking about the main character's family, then to the relavant plot.)

    Um...how many pages should a scene take? I counted five pages. That's way too long, isn't it?
     
  7. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know. Maybe it's artificial to say things like 'scene.' I'm not sure how helpful it is. It really depends on how long your chapters are.

    I can only speak from my own writing, where I'd have maybe two or three 'scenes' per chapter. Between each scene usually a certain amount of time has elapsed.

    I'm not really helping am I. :)

    [Disclaimer (lol): Each scene need not be of a predetermined or fixed size. Phew]
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You are. :)

    So if one section of the chapter takes place at night and another section takes place during the day, then those are "scenes", and if my chapters are long, then it'd make sense if my scenes were long.

    That does make sense. :D Yay! I learned something new about writing today.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A scene does not have a fixed size. It can be a single paragraph, or a full chapter. You can even allow a scene to resume across a chapter boundary.

    But every scene should support the story you are writing.
     
  10. boesjwoelie
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    boesjwoelie Member

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    I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and say Congnito is probably NOT one of those people who like to be left guessing... :D
    however I agree, an entire chapter might be much.

    about your question wheter or not the foreshadows are obvious, would it be a bad thing if they were?
    when I read in a novel, something that is said or done, and recognize it as a foreshadow, that doesn't bug me at all. I usually just think: something awesome is going to happen later :)
     
  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I do agree, Cogito. I really do. I don't want to give you the apperance that I'm some stuckup who thinks his way is "teh best" and ignore your suggestions if I say this:

    I just think that if I devoted an entire scene in a chapter where the two just talk about things like family instead of the plot 24/7 (Even though they'll attend to it the next scene), I make them appear more human instead of simple robots doing what I programmed them to do.

    Plus, if its the first book and early on and the main character had recently just met his new friend, then they're gonna talk, right? Like a "Get to know you" scene before they move to the plot in the next. Of course, I could just include some dialouge about the plot so it doesn't feel too unrelevant.

    Again, I don't mean to appear like a stuckup who thinks his way is "teh best". I agree with you, however I'm giving you what I believe.

    I hope I made sense. :redface:
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not only as a constant reader for more than 6 decades, but as an editor and a writing mentor/tutor of long standing, i have to agree with cog on all counts...
     
  13. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    Ha! I misread your post at first. Was about to point out that you can’t be her, because Dorothy Parker is dead! :)
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    After thinking more on what Cogito said, I realized he is totally, 100% right.

    Every scene SHOULD continue the plot, not go off talking about something that won't appear until...say...Book #4.

    I can sprinkle forshadowing, but I should probably not devote a scene to it.

    I guess I could, as long as it was small, not really that obvious.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    hw...
    what part of my post caused your momentarily confusing me with one of my all-time idols?
     
  16. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    Constant Reader! I didn't see the "a" at first and read it as "not only as constant reader..." :)
     

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