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

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    Dream too specific? Should it be a flashback? When should I reveal his background?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Nov 10, 2012.

    Hey! I'm 1K words into my Noire story set in 1952 Georgia. My MC, Charles Wilkins, is a 50-year-old diner owner, and he's also a Titanic survivor. The plot does revolve around that, don't worry. xD Also, if you don't think it's a good idea to have him be a Titanic survivor, I'll be more than happy to create a fictional ship that sank, and he survived.

    But basically, the story goes that when the ship went down, he was rescued by a French woman who called herself Monica Garnier. Forty years later, an owner of the diner, he meets a fourteen year old boy named Amos Garnier who is an orphan who ran away from a bad orphanage. Out of curiosity, because Amos looks so much like his grandmother, and out of sympathy, Wilkins allows the boy to work with him in the diner as one of Wilkins' many employees. What's the plot? Amos wants to reunite with his grandmother that he has heard was still alive, but in another city.

    The story starts with him in his apartment, late at night having some whisky. After listening to politics on the radio, he sits there and dozes off to sleep. Then he begins to have a very specific dream about the ship sinking forty years ago wherein he was seperated from his father and he himself almost froze to death.

    The problem is, I feel that this is a) too specific to be a dream, and b) out of place. Why would he, out of the blue, start dreaming about the ship? After listening to a politican yammering about Communism, he'd logically would have dreams about that instead.

    I also feel its a little too early. When would it be best to have him take us back in time and let us see what had happened to him that night? How long would the flashback need to be? It should probably be in a moment where he's not too busy with anything else, including fighting the bad guy. Maybe I should reveal it in bits and pieces? Should it be in flashbacks and/or brief dialogues once he and Amos figure out that his grandmother and Wilkins once knew each other?

    Also, since this deals with Wilkins' past, how do I make sure to handle the flashbacks so it doesn't seem like half the book is forty years previous and concentrate it on the right here and now?

    And a little grammar issue: Should the flashbacks, if there are any, be in italics, or no?

    Ideas?

    And thanks for any thoughts given.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1. if you have all those doubts, DON'T!

    2. using dreams or flashbacks as info dumps screams 'amateur' to agents/publishers

    3. do NOT use italics for anything but foreign words or an occasional one that needs to be emphasized... and in those cases, simply underline the word, don't put it in italics

    4. it's 'noir' [no capital, no 'e']
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd wait it out and have something trigger a memory.
    Scent is a big memory trigger.
    Also sounds, and weather.

    I also wouldn't jam it in at the front sounds forced. start with some small goal that shows us
    a bit about the character, than work in the Titanic-plot later on.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Makes sense. I should flesh out his character, make him as round and relateable as possible before I introduce the 'shipwreck survivor' plot.

    And I might want to avoid using the Titanic. Seems too...predictable. I'll just create a fictional ship instead.

    btw, does the whole 'letting an orphan kid work in his diner with the other employees' seem a tad unrealistic given the setting? One would think he'd instead give the kid back to the orphanage as they're responsible for him, not Wilkins.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    The idea may be unrealistic - but it's your job to make it believable. You can have a totally unrealistic idea but as long as you
    give enough backstory and reason's why this is the right decision the reader will go along with it.
    Maybe the kid doesn't look fourteen? maybe the old man is lonely and admits he's doing the wrong thing but
    doesn't care or justifies it.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's the thing. I'm not sure if I can make it realistic enough to use the idea. I did have the idea that the kid himself suggested it in the first place. Wilkins wanted nothing to do with the kid, but the kid insisted, stating he'd do a good job, avoid getting into trouble/causing trouble, etc, and in exchange, he'd be able to eat decent food and sleep in either the basement or attic of the diner. Would that be a good enough reason, or would I need to justify more?

    I suppose it could work. The kid proves himself to Wilkins that he can contribute greatly to the diner, and Wilkins slowly begins to accept him as part of the diner/one of the diner employees?
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Was someone similarly yammering about Communism on the ship? Maybe even someone who was important, either in a good or bad way, to his experience of the shipwreck? (Guided him to a lifeboat, gave him his seat on the lifeboat because he was a child, or opposite, tried to get his seat on the lifeboat.) Maybe his feeling about that past person can somehow be linked to his feeling about the politician on the radio? Similar accent, similar insincere delivery but the man in the past had sincere behavior...something. Maybe he trusted/distrusted the man in the past and learned that he was right or wrong, maybe whether he trusts or distrusts this politician is somehow important.
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Interesting. I hadn't considered that angle. Maybe someone preached Marxism to him on the lifeboat, possibly blaming the entire tragedy on capitalistic society, etc. Maybe from there, he could meet the politician again in the present (or mayhaps another Marxist??) I'll consider it. 8)
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You dont have to make up a ship that sank. Plenty of ships sank in that era and not just titanic. I would avoid titanic simply because it seems like an easy cop out and, after the film, horribly cliche.
     
  10. Fatback
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    Fatback Banned

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    I would do the dream but keep it short and vague... This way you can create a build up for the actual details of his experience later on in the story. Add a splash of mystery as to the circumstances surrounding your protagonists experience and bam... You have created a nice hook for your reader.
     

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