1. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Best way to recall past events?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TerraIncognita, Aug 4, 2010.

    What are some effective ways to recall past events in a character's life? I feel this is important that the reader knows what went on with this character's past because it has a major impact on how she interacts with others.

    I know of flash backs but I'm not sure that such a long story would work with that. I'm not entirely sure how to do this because in the past I never gave the reader a lot of information about a character's background. I see now where that wasn't working too well. Thanks for your time. :)
     
  2. DarkRanger
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    DarkRanger New Member

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    Have something happen thats related to the persons past, like they see a cat that looks like his/hers. Then have a chapter/paragraph on the past, so like a flashback I guess.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    conversations, diary entries to read, picking up an ornament or object, stroking an animal that is related to someone, visiting a gravestone? I am finding with mine introducing it through dialogue as I go along is working. I find it relatively easy because its a first person and in the present tense, so his mind can have an aside in it.
     
  4. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Thanks guys. :) The issue is more the execution of it than how to bring it about.
     
  5. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If its a long flashback you could give it it's own chapter. You can introduce it when its needed as the chapter ends and start a new one with the flashback. When the flashback is over you can end the chapter.

    Sorry not sure if this was any real help. lol
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Thanks. :) I'm taking in all the ideas and seeing which one will fit best for what I'm writing. So yes, it helped. :p
     
  7. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    These are some ways of doing it. Or, as long as you make it clear where and when the scene is taking place, and the scene is appropriate in any way to be where it is... you are good.
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I'm considering devoting the majority of a chapter to it because it was an event that really shaped her life.
     
  9. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I don't see any problem in it as this past event is going to be related to her (present) story. It's a matter of style, chronological order of a story can be played around. I have seen stories where past events are given in bits and pieces, and also past events given as full chapters, both works.... as long as it's not an info dump... it shouldn't be rushed or over descriptive, the style should be consistent with the rest of the story.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally like having a bit of info dump in my novels:) The odd chapter given a back story to a character is worth reading for the way it enriches a character.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I also tend to use dialogue to set up background information. That way, I can reveal as much or as little as I want to the reader. It also makes it easy to show how the characters feel about past events.
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Thanks guys. This has been put on the back burner for now. I have a lot of b.s. going down in my life right now so everything is a little unstable emotionally. As soon as I can get back where I need to be I'll work on it some more. Thanks for your replies.
     
  13. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    An alternate technique that I am 99% sure will not work for your purposes, will probably read awkwardly, and should be avoided barring very deliberate usage, but which I am purposely using:

    In my current work, I'm writing in 3p limited. About 75% of the piece takes place in the past (the year or so up to the current point [February 1978-February 1979]), and thus I use past tense, telling the story from the earliest past point to the latest past point. In the flash-forwards, about every fourth chapter, I use present tense, but I make very, very sure to only stay in my protagonist's head, and to keep the same linear progression [February 1979-April 1979], since I'm not writing a novelization of Pulp Fiction. It works, since the main question of the story is 'How did the protagonist wind up in the current situation?' -- and it is surprisingly inobtrusive in my story.

    Note it's something with very, very limited uses, and thus is not the 'best' way; others have suggested more universal methods. Still, as it's a limited-use alternate technique but one which I have seen used in several other pieces of pop fiction, I'm offering it up anyway.
     
  14. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Thanks. I will keep that in mind if I need it in the future. It's probably not best for this because I'm writing from third person from four different characters' perspectives. Which is challenging but I really enjoy it and I think I've been writing long enough to take it on. :) I switch POVs at chapters and not in the middle of them and I keep with the character the other one is with so it doesn't get confusing and flows well. If I need to change to a character that isn't around I make sure the chapter ends in such a way that it doesn't get confusing to the reader when I switch at the next chapter. So I'm thinking having a chapter where she is remembering all this would work best. Not an info dump. Flashbacks on a need to know basis in their own chapters. :)
     

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