1. MapleLeaf
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    MapleLeaf Member

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    A story that spans centuries

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MapleLeaf, Oct 30, 2009.

    My story begins in 2032 but there is backhistory that will go back to the 10th century, 14th century and 16th century. It ultimately ties to what is going to happen in 2032, but my problem is that the characters are all different, for the obvious reason that none of them lived in all these time periods. They are all related but I feel the reader is going to be introduced to some characters only to be abandoned soon for another set when their purpose in the plot is done. Sadly, this means my reader will not stay with a character long enough to develop any attachment. What am I missing? Please be gentle, its my first post.:redface:
     
  2. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Well, you can write from the four characters POVs, and slowly tie-in whatever connection there is between the four periods. That way, you won't be abandoning any character.

    It would help if you were less vague. That way, we could help you better.
     
  3. MapleLeaf
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    MapleLeaf Member

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    Let me see if I can be more specific. In chronological order...

    10th century MCs : King, Queen, General, and an Oracle.
    16th century: a pair of thieves that witness an incident
    18th century: villian is creating a time travel device
    21st century: MC with his 2 schoolmates, and a host of other characters.

    So as you can see, these are all different people. They span a long length of time. The storyline has a common thread and logical connections between them all, but per my earlier post, how can I develop any feelings for the King/Queen that will only survive for a brief period of time?

    Hope this helps to clarify - otherwise be specific on what information is required. Thanks in advance.
     
  4. aniolel
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    aniolel Member

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    Time travel might work here(i.e. if you're aiming for a science fiction novel or short).
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    with good writing!

    there's no magic formula for this... if you have the talent and skills it takes to make it work, you'll do it... if you don't, you won't... sorry to seem unsympathetic, but that's the bottom line and the awful truth...
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How are the people connected? Are they in the same family? Are they all associated with some artifact?

    That is what you should look for, some unnifying element that the reader can follow and form an attachment to.

    When George Lucas envisioned his Star Wars saga, he planned it to largely be told through the eyes of two droids, C3PO and R2D2. The Skywalker family was also a unifying thread, and that ended up dominating. However, whether that would have carried the story through the final trilogy, we may never know.

    A bloodline may seem hokey, but it's still a good common thread to carry though a time travel saga, especially given the threat of a paradox if something were to happen to an ancestor.
     
  7. MapleLeaf
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    MapleLeaf Member

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    The question is this ; Given that the novel spans many centuries, and has a host of "different" characters in each time period, is it

    1. a good idea to start a novel at its chronological start?
    2. or, reduce the no. of characters

    I read somewhere that The Lord of the Rings is a good example of a story spanning centuries. I havent read it yet, anyone who has, can you give answer MapleLeafs question from LOTG viewpoint?

    Anyone who has something useful and constructive to add, welcome ! your thoughts.
     
  8. MapleLeaf
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    MapleLeaf Member

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    Cog, thats good feedback. Thanks !
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Lord of the Rings doesn't span centuries. Most of it takes place over a single year. There are only a few central characters tat the story focuses on, primarily Frodo and Samwise.

    There is a rich history built into the story, but that history is the backdrop, not the story itself.
     
  10. MapleLeaf
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    MapleLeaf Member

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    The question is this ; Given that the novel spans many centuries, and has a host of "different" characters in each time period, is it

    1. a good idea to start a novel at its chronological start?
    2. or, reduce the no. of characters

    Anyone ?
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Presenting the story in chronological order is one option, but it isn't the only one.

    Your questions don't have any real answer. The only question is how you will choose to write the story. You may need a lot of characters to tell your story, or only a few.

    Any answers you get will omly tell you how someone else would approach a story with the same few story elements. Those would be different stories than the one you are writing.
     
  12. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    It depends on what you are envisioning, or the way you want to approach the story. Given that the story shifts between four different time periods, you might focus on your 2032 period as the "main" one, with occasional chapters detailing the other periods so to give us the information we need, and to see the connection between these periods.
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    my ideas for you

    If your novel is say 100,000 words, you can break it into four parts, and write it in chronological order. You can also reduce the amount of characters in each section. This would give you about 25,000 words for each section, which is more than enough to make us care about the character.

    But something needs to move us from story to story, otherwise it will feel like we are reading 4 separate novellas.

    What happens in 2033?
    Now, here are some of my thoughts. You could have someone in 2032 telling the story about the past events. Let him be the narrator. He can start by telling you about the present, making you care about him. Then he can go to the past to show how the past has affected his present. Maybe his voice and a blood relation to these people will be enough to make us care about the past events.

    Another option is reincarnation. Have him telling the story about the present, and then he begins to remember past lives. He was the MC in each of the past stories.

    Another option, if your story permits such a thing, is for a time traveler to be telling the story. He is observing each time and telling the story. You can jump around as you please if this were the case. If the time traveler is viewing these character because he is trying to solve a mystery, or is trying to prevent what might happen in 2032, then we will cheer him on. He is motivated to achieve a goal.

    A similar idea is to have a spirit, demon, angel, or something telling the story. He is part one of the MC's lives in each story. If that spirit is motivated to reach a goal, we will care about him in each story he is present it. He can be an invisible observer and perhaps he interferes sometimes and the characters aren't aware of it. So the spirit will be how you link each story, to get us to care when all the characters change but the spirit. Then as we get into the next story, because the MC in that story is motivated to reach a goal, we follow along.

    A MC is trying to calm his horse down. He has no idea why it is acting up. We know because the horse sees the spirit.

    Those are some of my ideas. I have been working on a plot for a novel that spans about 2 billion years. He is a powerful entity that has reincarnated many times. Presently he is in an alien body and is planning on converting planet earth. All of his 2-billion-year history is needed to understand why he is converting earth. How he has become who he is, aka the slanderer, the adversary of heaven as Christians call it. But heaven is a physical place.
     
  14. MapleLeaf
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    MapleLeaf Member

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    Thanks Architectus. Your feedback was very helpful. I have taken a few notes and will put them to use.
     

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