1. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Backstory in flashbacks - I need help with structure issues Thanks

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GingerCoffee, Jun 8, 2013.

    My protag's childhood is key in the story, but the story is not about a child. With the popularity of YA in mind, the protag is everyone's favorite age, 17. ;)

    I've gone through a few restructures and settled on flashbacks, so that part is decided. If you don't like flashbacks for backstory I respect that, but I've had that discussion already.

    So now here's the problem I'm working on. The flashbacks at the moment are very top heavy, meaning they are unevenly spaced in the book. Currently they fit in nicely early on in the story, but by 1/3 of the way through the story, they would have all been inserted and there are no more for the rest of the book.

    So what do folks think? Would that seem odd to a reader, flashbacks at first that then no more? How about 2 or 3 fairly close together then a couple spaced further apart, then none for the rest of the book?


    Also, near the end of the book (1st of 2) I switch POVs to a transitional character. There's a different protag in the second book and the transitional character ties the two stories together. I've thought about inserting flashbacks from his past while the POV is still the protag's. That might even out the flashbacks but would break from her POV before the reader knows I'm going to change POVs near the end of the book. Any comments?
     
  2. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I think your flashback plan is okay; as with everything else, it's all in how well you write it. If the backstory truly is necessary (and very often it isn't as necessary as the writer thinks it is), you must include it before it is necessary.

    I'm more concerned about changing POV near the end. What if your second book is never published? Does the first one still hang together as a novel in itself, with that odd-seeming POV change in there?
     
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, the first book is complete in and of itself even with the added change in POV at the end. I haven't written the end yet though I know what it is. I'm bringing the 2nd POV in where the story shifts then I bring the protag back in before the climax and ending.

    So what about flashbacks from the transitional character who I might also call a supporting protagonist? She meets him, and instead of having his backstory told to the protag, I'm thinking of using flashbacks. But the story won't be told from his POV until much later.
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
    Offline

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    I'm Welsh - and proud!
    Personally I would spread the backstory out a little more, but as Minstrel said, it's how you write it that matters, and if your story needs to be that way, then forcing it into any other way will ruin it.

    As for the change in POV, I have read books in which the main character dies at the end of the first book, and then another character continues in the next novel in the series, such as the character's son or daughter. I know this is not quite as you say int terms of changing POV at the end of the first book, but if as you say it'll tie the two together, I think it would work and generally readers would accept it. Again, it's all about the writing.

    So basically I'm saying go for it. :)
     
  5. Keitsumah
    Offline

    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    3,279
    Likes Received:
    285
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I do a lot of flashbacks in my book -its pretty integral as to explain the powers that one of my MC has. As a Shifter, he can control a human's mind naturally, but he has to train in order to get better at it. That's where the flashbacks come in. There are also instances where the two MC's bump into each other in the book, or a devastating event happens, and they remember each incident through flashbacks -though i change details just slightly in order to mimic our own memory process.

    Put the flashbacks where they are appropriate. If they are spread out too much and the content is not relevant, the flashback does not hold any purpose. Bring up the past and what it means for the present each time it first comes into the fray.

    Also, here's a tip on how to make flashbacks if you'd like. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on another website from my use of this kind of style, so you may want to try it:

    Example: "Oomph!"
    The girl gasped as she bounced off of him and tumbled to the ground, stunned. Then her head snapped up and her violet eyes widened even further, causing his breath to catch.

    No no no no no. Not a human. No.

    I inverted the thought/action in the flashback, makign the action italicized and the thought unitalisized if you get what i mean. It's also used in Christopher Paolini's Eragon if you need a published reference -at the end with the big vision about Oromis.
     
  6. Burlbird
    Offline

    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    978
    Likes Received:
    295
    Location:
    Somewhere Else
    I always struggle with flashbacks - I think they should somehow be organicaly connected to the "main" body of the story... You might ask yourself: why is this flasback here? A situation is cut in half, or two scenes are devided/connected by a flashback : why? I think it's important not to makethose flashbacks seem random - most of the time :)
     
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I agree the flashbacks need to tie in to the present scene. That is the idea. It's tricky, but it's also one of the reasons a lot of the flashbacks come in the beginning. Maybe I need to think about that a bit more though.
     
  8. maskedhero
    Offline

    maskedhero Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    America
    Having the story that comes from the flashbacks end before the whole story ends wouldn't seem strange, as long as we gain something from the entire experience. If we have some growth from the character, or a moment that stands out, he/she may not need to give us a flashback anymore. Just be careful not to make them too burdensome.

    As to the transitional character switch...do we never go back to the first character? That might be more disconcerting (but again, depends on if the story flows well).
     
  9. maskedhero
    Offline

    maskedhero Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    America
    As much as one might bemoan the show, Lost basically used flashbacks in every episode. They at first seemed to lack a connection to the current events, but usually ended up having that as it went along. As long as the flashbacks have meaning to what we are experiencing in the now, then people will be happy. Having them fade away is also fine.
     

Share This Page