1. Mister Addams
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    Mister Addams New Member

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    Holding back

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mister Addams, Jul 4, 2013.

    Chasing answers

    Hey writers! First time poster so go easy on me, would you?

    I have loved writing for as long as I can remember which recently led me, naively i might add, to believe i could write a novel. When I was about six words in i ran into my first problem and it continued in that fashion.

    As of writig this I have made some real head way but one thing never really played itself out. So to my question;

    The novel begins with a man chasing a train. You know, to kick it off with a bang. After the chase I jump back and explain the events leading up to it, but what should I do when I get to the chase part the second time?

    Should I tell it again and let the previous events give it a new angle or should I skip it and assume the reader can fill in the blanks? Or maybe you can come up with something even better.

    In any case, thanks in advance.
     
  2. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    I'd re-write it first without looking back at the original. Then, when you edit it, make sure you didn't leave something important out, or add something that couldn't have been there, the first time.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go easy on yourself too, Mr. Adams. You can do it.

    Now, as far as your specific question -- why is your character chasing the train? If it's an important scene, I probably would not open with it. When writers say you should start with action, they don't mean necessarily physical chasing. They really mean some sort of intrigue -- something that makes you want to read more. Give us some sort of insight into the thoughts of your character, or the situation he's in. Physical action can only take you so far -- sometimes the movies can get away with it because it can be such a stunning visual. But as far as story or character development, they usually aren't the best (although you can certainly have some of those in your story).

    Go ahead and write your scene. Figure out later whether that is really where you want to start. I suspect it won't be.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My suggestion is to start a new chapter and pick up after chasing the train.

    Think of other novels you've read, recall or review/reread how those authors tackled things similar to what you're struggling with at the time.

    Good luck moving forward.
     
  5. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    In what I'm able to recall at the moment, this approach normally involves a climax of some sort or other. The climax is presented and then the rest of the story/show/movie goes back to explain how things got to that point (maybe with a bit of denouement afterward). It sounds like the train chase isn't such a climactic event. As such, I'd like to highlight chicagoliz's post as much as I can. Flashing lights would be brilliant but... c'est la vie.

    I don't mean to say this approach can't be done (and it may have somewhere I don't know of). Anything's possible if it's done right. If you consider your approach and still believe it's best for you, I recommend not repeating yourself. People may well skip over it the second time (though I, the obsessive reader, would read through it to make sure I didn't miss anything). I'll have to agree with TWErvin2:

     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can't write things satisfactorily the first time. I have to put what I want to say down, then go back and fix it for character and plot, then again for how it flows. I envy people talented enough to write well right out of the gate.

    It's just a given this is my writing method.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm reminded of a dog chasing a bus. What would he do with it if he caught it?

    Maybe there's a parable there...
     
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  8. swordsandpens
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    swordsandpens New Member

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    Sometimes it's best to keep it simple. I would just write the full chase scene, then put the flashback in the middle. You might need to tweak some of the sentences around the insertion point, but if your reader can handle being dropped into the action without training wheels, they can handle it a second time.
     
  9. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    To answer your specific question, yes if you provide clear indications you can safely assume the readers will not get confuse about the timeline/scene change. Yes, that's right, treat it as just another shift in scene or timeline and you should be fine. The most basic and must indication being starting a new chapter or at least a new paragraph for new scene, in case if you are not sure.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The word "explain" here worries me. A story, IMO, should very rarely explain things--it should usually just tell the story. Do you really need to explain your backstory, or can you just march forward with your story and let the reader discover what's going on as it happens?

    As a more prosaic example, let's imagine a story that starts with Susan carrying a cake to the dining room table, and cursing as she accidentally gets icing on her good white shirt. We could then go back and explain that Susan is throwing a birthday party for her mother-in-law, and why the party is at her house, and for that matter who her husband is and how she met him and so on and so on... but we really don't need to. We can instead go _forward_ with the story. Maybe Susan's sister Jane shows up and loans Susan her expensive silk shirt, and the conversation between Susan and Jane throws out clues as to what's going on. ("Don't be silly--take my blouse! I could walk in wearing flannel pajamas and the old biddy wouldn't even see me. _You're_ the one that she's looking to knock down a peg.")
     

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