1. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    Flashback, but not a flashback.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by louis1, Jun 12, 2012.

    Here is my problem:

    The reader needs to know everything about a certain event, that took place long ago. Event ABC
    But I need Joe to tell Bill about this even. but Joe does not know of every detail.


    So joe needs to tell patrick what he knows about the event, but the reader need to know everything about the event.

    How do I do this?


    Let the reader see a flashback, but have joe describe only what he knows.

    In film it would be easy, to have joe start the story, turn into a flash back. and the back to joe, but in text form, I have not idea how to handle this.

    Would this be acceptable.? :

    -Hey bill let me tell you this story
    -okay lets hear it.
    - ten years ago a little boy was...
    the little boy walked in the park, he fell and died.
    - they found him dead, no one knows how he died.
    - Oh that's great news!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Why?

    Before you answer, consider the option of NOT revealing the background information up front. Leave the reader somewhat off balance. A reader with questions as yet unanswered is an interested reader. Then, when you let a tidbit of information through, the reader will eagerly pounce on it, and cherish the revelation.

    Keep the reader hungry!
     
  3. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I agree with Cog in that it may be better to let back story seep out through the story itself and not through forced exposition. That way you keep the reader interested in future events by not revealing all of the past. Harry Potter (it's the most universal example I can think of) did this well throughout the series. Things were hinted at and often mentioned but the relevance of the back story was made clear through action.

    In film and TV the visualisation of events is entirely different to literature and it can be really alluring to want to replicate their effectiveness in writing. I don't necessarily think flashbacks are bad but if you're writing in a limited POV and one character doesn't have access to the info you want to share then you have to find a new way of introducing it.

    You can still have Joe tell Bill about the event but leave things omitted and you can use techniques like foreshadowing to keep readers involved.
     
  4. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    Think of it as a crime, a murder for example. I describe the murder, the reader NEEDS to know and I insist because I've though about it a lot and this is not something I want to keep as a secret. I'm sure of this.

    Also it's not really a flashback, because it's the first scene. so it's in chronological order.
     
  5. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I agree with Cog but... sometimes it's fun to have the reader know or at least realize that the person telling the story is hiding something or doesn't have all the facts. I'm not sure the best way to do that but if it was possible to do a flashback with a different character or maybe see the flashback and then have the character "tell" the facts different than what the reader just saw in the flashback.
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eh, my advice? You got a way you want to do it? Try it. You'll never know if it'll work or not until you try it. If it doesn't work, at least you can cross it off your list based on something concrete and not some abstract concepts about how much to give or not give. Trial and error, my friend. Better to waste time trying something and seeing that it doesn't work for yourself than to have something that would've been better for the story that you don't do because a bunch of people on a forum told you it was a bad idea. If you want to do it and think it needs to be done, than don't let us stop you.
     

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