1. DerfelGadarn
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    DerfelGadarn New Member

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    Help... first time novel writer...

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by DerfelGadarn, Jun 9, 2015.

    Here are two scenarios that, as a first-time (fantasy) novel writer, are a little problematic for me...

    The first is time travel-ish: Over a few paragraphs we briefly meet a historical guy (let's call him) "Alexander" then I'd like to jump 200 years into the future and meet "Bob"... and then go back and forth telling their stories in parallel for a while... short bits, not the length of whole chapters.

    The second scenario: "Alexander" searches the battlefield and finds the body of his son... cut to his "Nemesis" discovering that his son is dead also... "Nemesis" screams in rage... "Alexander," many, many miles away, reacts as if he heard the scream.

    this is my first attempt at writing a novel. In a script this would be easy to format by cutting between scenes. Is there a way that this kind of choppy-jump-around-in-time-and-space-thing would work in a novel? And/or can anyone suggest examples of this kind of thing from published books?

    Thanks in advance for all your help and suggestions.
     
  2. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Transitions are a difficult thing to pull off effectively, but with practice it shouldn't be a problem.

    You should start by reading anything that has a multitude of time or scene transitions. The story I'm reading now (Mr Mercedes by Stephen King) tends to jump back and forth between the protagonist and antagonist. Simply studying things like that will help you immensely.

    As for the 'reaction' to the scream, I would say that boils down to using the correct words. You could try something like, 'Alexander swiftly turned with vigilance as though the cries of his arch enemy, name, echoed across macabre fields.'

    Overall, I would just recommend reading and planning a lot before you dive into the writing.
     
  3. DerfelGadarn
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    DerfelGadarn New Member

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    Thanks so much for your help. I'll check out the Stephen King book. But with regard to the "reaction"... if you were writing about Nemesis... paragraph, paragraph... would you then, in the next paragraph just jump to " (and miles away), Alexander swiftly turned with vigilance as though the cries of his arch enemy, name, echoed across macabre fields." Or do you even need to use "and miles away." Is it "allowed" to jump from location (paragraph 1) to new location (paragraph 2) and hope the reader can follow along once you've established that the two men are in their respective locations?
     
  4. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Anything is possible in writing; that's what makes it so great. You could do that, but it would be pretty hard to pull off effectively in my opinion. There was a chapter in Dan Browns Angels and Demons were he flipped point of view between a journalist with a video camera trying to get a scoop and the protagonist at work. That worked quite well, but still the text associated with each was like two pages before transition.

    I would suggest just reading and keeping your eyes open for a solution. Maybe someone else on this forum can come up with an idea for you.
    I know starting someone new is all exciting and you want to get pen to paper, but trust me, don't dive in balls deep, or you'll probably end up re-writing everything.

    :superagree:
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    How are they linked? How does one story relate to the other? Do the two stories ever come together in some way?
     
  6. DerfelGadarn
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    DerfelGadarn New Member

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    Thanks for responding, Ed --

    I picture this in my head more like a movie...

    Bob searches the battlefield for his son... his eyes go wide when he sees his son's body (off screen)
    cut to:
    Miles away, Bob's enemy, George, searches a field hospital for his own missing son
    cut to:
    Bob's friend, Jane approaches Bob as he watches his son is loaded on an ambulance and drives away
    cut to:
    Miles away, George finds his son in the hospital... dead... he screams in anguish
    cut to:
    Bob's head turns, reacting as if he heard George's scream

    In a script you would obviously just cut between scenes... but I haven't read many books where I've seen this kind of synchrony between characters and locations. This is my first attempt at novel writing, so I'm looking for a little advice from more learned authors.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    What happened to Alexander? I thought it was his story and Bob's, 200 years later, that were supposed to be linked?

    As for picturing it in your head like a movie, I know that some writers like to do this, but I don't recommend it. Cinema and literature are two very different media, with different dynamics. Ten seconds of a film can provide a spectacle that could take several pages of text to describe (in Tales of the South Pacific, James Michener takes four pages to describe a sunrise). OTOH, a novel can easily weave together a character's thoughts with narration and dialogue in a way that, were it to be imitated in film, would likely be quite tedious. In my first attempt at a novel, I did a lot of picturing as a film, and came away with a work very heavy in incidental dialogue and unnecessary descriptions.
     
  8. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    While it has been used in films for dramatic effect, in a book it might be hard to explain why Bob turns his head. Did he really hear something? Did he have a vision? Coincidence? Your explanation with change the nature of your story. If I had to write it like that I'd go for coincidence. Bob looks in the direction he knows George to be and it so happens to be the very moment that George screams.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Both matters can be managed by titling the chapters with a time stamp.

    Aug 14, 2024, 13:05 hours
    Blah blah.. he heard a scream. It didn't come from him ...

    Aug 14, 2024, 13:04 hours
    Nemesis screamed in rage.

    Aug 22, 2224, 14:00 hours


    I love the idea, by the way, of two enemies who both lose sons at the same time.
     
  10. DerfelGadarn
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    DerfelGadarn New Member

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    ***

    Hi Ed, sorry if it's getting confusing. My story mostly takes place in the past, but has moments of time travel to the future, and all the character's stories are linked. I'm also pulling character names out of the air trying to describe kind of what's basically going on.

    I like the idea of synchrony... chopping quickly from scene to scene... it seems like very dynamic story telling, but from what you're saying it's a technique better left to script writing than novels.

    Thanks so much for your advice, it's much appreciated.
     
  11. DerfelGadarn
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    DerfelGadarn New Member

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    It was supposed to be one of those "goosebumps" kind of moments... like the dog howling when it's master dies hundreds of miles away.

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  12. DerfelGadarn
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    DerfelGadarn New Member

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    Hi Ginger, my "issue" was having these cuts literally a paragraph, or less, apart and not separated by full chapters. And based on the advice I'm getting, it doesn't seem like a technique appropriate for novels.

    thanks for your advice.
     

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