1. mad_hatter
    Offline

    mad_hatter Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2014
    Messages:
    196
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    England

    Does A Novel Include "Interludes"?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mad_hatter, Jul 7, 2015.

    I have a pretty simple question, so I hope you guys can help...

    I’ve written the outline for my first novel. I plan on starting the first draft very soon (I just have to finish this pesky short that I’m in the middle of!). My novel is broken down into seven parts; a prologue, an epilogue, three parts that make up the bulk of the story, with two parts that act as back-stories, which would fall between the three main parts (if that makes any sense?).

    My question is this: What do you call those intermediate parts? I’ve listed them in my outline as “interludes”, but that doesn’t feel right to me. These sections deviate from the main story, but they are still related. They add detail to something that gets revealed at the end of the preceding part (again, makes sense?). They may not be necessary, but, at this point, I want to try and use them.

    So, what exactly are they?
     
    jannert likes this.
  2. Aaron DC
    Offline

    Aaron DC Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,554
    Likes Received:
    1,251
    Location:
    At my keyboard
    I am not sure. Interludes does sound about right.
    I am planning on doing something very similar.
     
  3. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Two questions - how vital are the backstories to the actual story you are telling? And is there a way you can tell those backstories in smaller pieces integrated into the other chapters?

    The structure that you describe suggests the possibility for some serious disconnects for the reader. Assuming the backstory segments are evenly spaced throughout, what it looks like to me is 1) stuff you need to know first; 2) part 1 of the actual story; 3) backstory; 4) part 2 of the actual story; 5) more backstory; 6) part 3 of the actual story; 7) stuff at the end. How do you plan to hold the reader's attention through that? How do the conflicts build?

    Alternatively, could it be that there isn't a backstory and a story, but rather two narratives tied up in one story? In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez does this very well, linking the story of a daughter and her mother. One could see Salome's story as "backstory" and Camilla's as the "story", but there is a thematic link between the two that makes it much more than that (if anything, the mother's story is the story). The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is another good example. In both cases, treating the stories of the past as backstory or "interludes" would not be doing them justice. They have conflicts and tension all their own.

    Good luck.
     
    Tesoro and jannert like this.
  4. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    How long are the interlude portions?
     
  5. sprirj
    Offline

    sprirj Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    158
    I would call them interludes. I love things like that, and I know I might be a minority here, but elements that take you outside the book. Makes you stop and think.
     
    Aaron DC likes this.
  6. mad_hatter
    Offline

    mad_hatter Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2014
    Messages:
    196
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    England
    Not vital. The reader could probably skip them if so desired.

    Possibly, but I feel that doing so might bog down the actual story telling. The first interlude is about a character just introduced. The second is about a character who’s just been revealed to be somebody they’re not.

    The interludes would be pretty busy. They wouldn’t just be plodding along, for the sake of it. Hopefully they’d add depth to the characters, but that added depth wouldn’t be necessary for the main story to work. There are a number of conflicts within my story, both for the characters and for the reader (towards the third act, it should become unclear as to who the reader should really be rooting for). I feel as though each section ends on a big enough of a cliff hanger, that the reader wouldn’t forget what had happened.

    Not sure if it makes much difference, but this is to be a horror novel.


    As I said though, I may well skip these interludes entirely. But, right now, I plan on writing them to see how well they work.


    Shorter than the main sections... In my chapter-by-chapter outline, I have the first interlude broken into six chapters and the second in to four. I’d expect them to be pretty short.



    So we’re saying that these are indeed interludes? That “interludes” is the correct word to use?
     
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    In that case, my advice would be to leave them out. Show us your characters by what they do in the here-and-now, including whatever tidbits from the past the reader needs to understand them. Otherwise, you're just adding excess baggage to your story.
     
  8. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    5,115
    If I were going to use the word interlude, it would be for a pretty short section, like a few pages at most. But it's your book - if you think "interludes" is the right word, go for it.
     
  9. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,241
    Likes Received:
    1,000
    I don't know the formal name for "interludes" - when I do those, I call them "commercial breaks" (In my mind, my book is an HBO series, and I literally watch the end credits roll in my head at the ends of big scenes). But they can work - I've done them successfully and done them badly - but my readers do actually like my flashbacks (at least the good ones) because they add a lot of color the pace stays fast.

    I've been thrown out of a book when there were flashback sequences that were essentially novellas within a huge book, but if they're manageable length and they hook into the rest of the plot in one big swing of forward motion, that's when they work. In my case I'm using flashbacks as reveals for big information that makes sense of what the characters are doing and lays groundwork so that the reader knows not only what made the main character who they are, but what's probably going to come back and hit them (that they can't see)
     
    jannert likes this.
  10. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    7,299
    Location:
    Scotland
    I always think of an interlude as a rest period between action or activity. (There are other definitions related to technical terms for music or to describe a type of romantic encounter, but I don't think this is what you mean here.)

    http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/interlude - this is as good a description as any, really.

    I think it's good to write in 'rest periods' in a novel, especially if your novel is long and complicated. If you've been building to a mini-climax that takes place partway through the book, by all means follow it up with a period that is more restful and contemplative. It should, of course, also advance the story, but there is no harm done in dropping the tension for a little bit. Maybe your interlude will answer questions your reader has been harboring up to that point? In that case, a relaxed flashback might serve well. There isn't any rule about it. It either works in your story or it doesn't. That boils down to how you write it.

    @EdFromNY 's concern that this might yank the reader out of the story is a valid one. So ...you'll need to be careful to resolve the mini-conflict that came before, and make sure your 'interlude' advances the story—but also make sure the reader is well-oriented to the change. This is akin to changing from one POV character to another. Yes, the reader may feel momentarily disengaged, but they soon adapt. At least they will if the writing is good and the topic is interesting—and they know the time frame has changed.

    The better you can resolve the tension that came before this 'interlude,' the happier the reader will be to move on to something else.

    A variation of pace can make your story easier to read. I, for one, find an unrelenting, escalating pace—especially in a longer book—too mentally exhausting for an immersive read. I often put that kind of book aside, just to give myself a break, and sometimes I don't pick it up again.

    Good luck. Don't be afraid to write anything you want. You won't know until it's finished and you've had some time to read it with fresh eyes—and maybe get good beta feedback—if it works or not. Here's hoping it does!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
    mad_hatter likes this.
  11. sprirj
    Offline

    sprirj Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    158

    To me it sounds like a novel in a similar style to Wes Anderson story telling. Which has got to be good right?
     
  12. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    In that case, I would suggest that they ought to be a LOT of enjoyment to read--fun or funny or fascinating. If they don't drive plot, and they're not enjoyable, that is, IMO, a problem.

    That said, I think that "interludes" is a good word.
     
  13. SethLoki
    Offline

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Messages:
    590
    Likes Received:
    474
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    Could they be called 'asides' ? I think an aside was a device Shakespeare used in his plays. I've got a separate page on my blog (written by someone else) that I've titled an aside. Not thought too hard about it but the word seems fit for purpose.
     
  14. rincewind31
    Offline

    rincewind31 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    96
    Likes Received:
    45
     

Share This Page