1. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks

    Effectively reducing your novel's time-line?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sundae, Jul 8, 2011.

    A lot of my novel ideas/concepts come to me with a time-frame, and most of time, this spans years for my characters.

    This poses a few problems me and it’s a bit frustrating and time consuming to properly execute.

    1) For one, my character voices need to change with time. Their voices need to mature just as they have matured through the years.

    2) Transitioning skips in years need to be smooth so it’s not as jarring, but at the same time it needs to be different from the previous “voice” yet still feel natural. It’s also difficult to keep track of your tone, style, and mood when you have distinct breaks that require you to change your character voice.

    And it’s not really a question of having too much background information – usually, I have significant events that happen to my characters that distinctly shape the future versions of my character and it’s important to the overall story.

    But the problem is, I don’t want to always have span years for my novels. I’ve thought about starting the story much later and revealing these past events in things like recollection, dreams, etc., but it’s not a technique I like, and sometimes, it’s not an effective technique for the type of story I want to tell.

    Like currently, I have a psychological drama turn thriller novel that I just started. It’s an idea that has haunted me for weeks and I’ve finally figured out my story and the main aspects of it. An important aspect of one of my main characters is his childhood and I know exactly which scenes to write, how many years to jump to get to where I need the story to be, but I’m not feeling it. I’ve written the first scenes in different child perspectives, but the more I write, the more I realize that I don’t want to explore the childhood years in this much detail. But it’s still an important aspect of my character and revealing it through snippets in later scenes won’t work for this story.

    So my question is: how do you effectively cut down OR convert the same growing up experiences/events to fit into a smaller time frame without having to span years for it?

    Is it just a matter of converting the events to occur at a later time - closer to where I want to pick up the story? What about the events that can't be converted?
     
  2. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    can't you write the story in first person with the mc as a narrator who tells the story as if to someone else? (=the reader, even though never stated) that way you could include just the important parts of every stage in his/her life without having to start the actual story from early childhood. Or if you write in third person let him/her look back at childhood or having something from today remembering smth that happened a long time ago? Idk, try and have a look in books from other writer and see how they deal with this kind of problem.
     
  3. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks
    Heh, I wish. I have three main characters - and the protagonist and antagonist share equal importance and both have a story to tell; it requires me to switch perspectives. The one with the crucial childhood scenes also dies in the end so telling the story in retrospect through his eyes doesn't work (unless I narrate from death - now that's a thought :eek:) but even if he didn't die, to tell it in that pov would give the ending away.

    I don't know, I think I'm going to try to find a way to convert crucial scenes to occur when I want them to. As long as the scenes have a similar effect and show a logical progression, it should work,

    Hopefully.
     
  4. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    Hehehe. that made me LOL. talk about an unexpected ending-the narrator has been dead all the time ;) I think you will have to find a way of recalling these particular events naturally when they need to be brought up for the story to progress. I don't know if dreaming would be a solution, to me it doesn't seem like dreams work in that way, unless it is a very traumatic event and the mc still has nightmares about it years after... otherwise it's unlikely that someone would recall smth from dreaming about it. Better see or hear or experience something that made that particular even come to mind.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,965
    Likes Received:
    5,490
    Why won't it work? I'm not saying that you're wrong, it's just that this seems to be one of the most obvious solutions, so to address the question I'd need to know why that solution won't work.

    Edited to add: Ah - I missed his being dead. Well, what about changing point of view, having those scenes remembered by someone who once knew him?

    Edited again to add: Except, wait. If the story isn't told in first person, I don't see the problem?

    ChickenFreak
     
  6. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks
    Yeah... nightmares. Traumatic experiences that come from abuse. He's also joins the army and through it suffers PTSD which just compounds the whole problem.

    The only reason I'm shying away from recalling these events as the story progresses is is because I think it will make the reader biased and persuade them to pick sides between my characters when my goal is to do the exact opposite of that.

    I don't know, I'll map it out both ways. See if it would possible to recall the events later on and still achieve the effect I want or see I can change the events and have them actually be a part of my story.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  7. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks
    Well... one of the main reason is that there are three main characters of equal importance. The whole story revolves around the relationship of these three characters. While all of them have had traumatic experiences from their childhood years, only one of them is barely hanging on to sanity although he comes off as pretty normal. To recall things in bits and pieces later on draws too much attention to the fact that he's mentally unstable ( unless I recall experience for all three of my character - then I could possibly mask it)

    But eventually, people will clearly know which one is breaking and when they do, I don't want my reader to pick sides between my protagonist and my antagonist - because both of their motives are logical and understandable.

    I don't know, it's hard to explain without giving away too much information.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,965
    Likes Received:
    5,490
    Did they know each other in childhood? Could they each recall things about each other, so that it takes the reader a while to realize that the recollections tend to zoom in on that one character?

    You could also do plain old flashbacks, not from any character's point of view, but it sounds like you're sticking to a pretty tight point of view and would rather not do that.

    ChickenFreak
     

Share This Page