1. akarpas
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    akarpas New Member

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    How do you manage transitioning to five years later in a novel?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by akarpas, Nov 14, 2015.

    Hi all,

    I've been writing my novel for some time now, and there is one thing that has been bothering me for a while. I want to start in 2010 (which can be 2-3 chapters or just a prologue) and then jump forward for the rest of the story to be in 2015/2016. For the life of me, I cannot find a suitable solution to make this work smoothly, and I cannot think of any other books like this so I can use it as reference.

    Please give me any tips, references, examples - anything will be great help! Thanks all! :)

    Cheers!
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've not written any novels that have jumps more than months at a time.

    I've written several short stories, particularly "The Exchange Box" and to a lesser extent, "Accelerated Justice" where there are jumps in time as the story progresses.

    With novels, you would start a new chapter, and make some reference to a situation or individual what would clue the reader in to the passage of time. With a short story, I used scene breaks (since stories don't tend to have chapters). In "The Exchange Box" the main character Sallie, has a son. What he is doing...crying and being nursed, toddling about, in ready for kindergarten, are significant clues, as well as Sallie's location and financial situation. Also, changes in technologies, from pagers/beepers, to mobile phones, to texting on smart phones, can provide information on time's passage.

    For a reference, my short story collection Genre Shotgun has those main stories and more mentioned (such as "Seconds to Eternity," where a main character is drawn into a black hole, and those observing it go into cold sleep, and are awakened years later...with the main character's niece, now a medical technician, is the one awaking the main character's partner).

    Another novel that came to mind would be The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen, would have examples, especially at the beginning of the novel, where time advances. And there are jumps in time in the Second Book of Swords, and the Third Book of Swords, and some of the Books of Lost Swords.

    You might get a copy of the Star Trek novel, All Good Things (which was a Star Trek the Next Generation episode, that pretty much wrapped up the series). In that, Captain Picard shifts time from 'current' to in his past to his just signing on as captain of the Enterprise, to the future where he is an old man. The scene/chapter changes where he shifts might offer additional ideas.

    (Those have been around a while and might be located in a library or a used book store, etc.)

    You could do something heavy handed, such as a character reading the date on a news paper...or if it novel takes place with real dates in the 'real world' references to significant events in the news or pop culture could be used, but these might date the book. You can incorporate the shift in dialogue...there are just so many ways.

    But again, a new chapter and some way for the reader to gauge the passage of time are the things to consider.

    Good luck as you move forward.
     
  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Insert a page saying "Five Years Later". Start new section. Job done :D
     
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  4. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    That's what I was going to say. :rofl:
     
  5. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    I often begin just by stating the date outright while opening with the new setting upon which it takes place. Though anything critically important does get mentioned in greater detail.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This ^ Make the chapter titles dates or years.
     
  7. akarpas
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    akarpas New Member

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    Thanks all for the great advices! This specific one I always thought of as an option, but I wasn't sure it would work. It's the easiest and most efficient... nothing to lose using this approach.

    I will also check one of the books that TWErvin2 mentioned.

    Thanks!
     
  8. Revilo87
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    Revilo87 Member

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    If the "5 years later" approach feels to abrupt you can start the book off in 2015 for a short bit, and then transition to "5 years ago." Although, it's essentially the same thing, flashbacks are a more familiar experience for readers. There's no need for a reader to think to much about why wrote a flashback scene/chapter/etc in because they'll know you did so to explain the present situation.
    Meanwhile, a flash forward can often leave readers wondering why there was a jump, why it was 5 years and what happened in between.

    Flash forward jumps can still be done successfully, for instance, several stories set around a high school or college age character skip months at a times through out their stay at the school
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I think you just make the jump. Make it clear to the reader that the time jump has taken place, but don't belabor it. Just pick up at the later date. I'm reading one now that just jumped 5000 years about 60% into the book, so 5 years doesn't seem so bad :)
     
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  10. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Here's what you do; forget the whole obvious '5 years later line'. What you do is put your MC in a graveyard.
    Have your MC all depressed and stuff, talking about how fast time goes by- really wade deep into the pointless struggle of life. right before you end the scene you bring up the name on the grave your MC is visiting (preferably the most likeable character in your novel) with the date, "Mar1987-Jun2015.... hard to believe that was five years ago"

    Theeeeen you jump back in time to where the character is still alive, but it'll be there, in the back of their mind.

    That character is dead.

    Wait, what was your question again?
     
  11. akarpas
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    akarpas New Member

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    Haha, nice idea...can't get around with a death. But i can assume a graveyard can also be a newspaper! :)
     

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