1. Godlet
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    Godlet New Member

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    How Important Is Flow?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Godlet, Aug 12, 2009.

    I am working on something that might be as long as a novel, but will at least reach novella-length. It will be divided into chapters, with each chapter focusing on a particular angle of the topic. But the transition of chapters is weird. It’s almost like some of the chapters don’t follow from the previous one, or that before I start a certain chapter I should explain more in the current one.

    In other words, it doesn’t seem to flow. Reading it seems to give a kind of foggy feeling where it makes sense locally, but not globally. Is this attractive? Are stories with almost, but not quite, standalone chapters enjoyable? Must a story necessarily be straightforward in order to be readable?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Transitions are important.

    It seemed choppy to you, right? And you're predisposed to like what you've written. That alone should tell you that something needs fixing.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Are you perchance switching the POV from one character to another?
     
  4. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    i personally like something to flow, but I am sure there is a market out there for what your talking about. Do the chapters confuse the reader when going from one to the next? That would be my only concern, is if the reader gets to frustrated and doesnt want to keep reading.
     
  5. Godlet
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    Godlet New Member

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    To thirdwind and afinemess: no, it's more like one chapter focuses on a certain set of points and the next chapter focuses on an entirely different set of points, which might be confusing to some.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    And its a novel? Doesn't sound like one....maybe it would help if you clarified more...
     
  7. Kingt2
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    Kingt2 New Member

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    It depends, really. Flow itself is important, that is, the story must flow. The events, however, don't necessarily have to if you present them the right way.

    Case in point, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.
    Laurence Sterne, the author shows us the timeline of events as they are written [as they appear] in the book [well, at least one of them is TLOTS,G]:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Though it should be noted that TLOTS,G was (and still is) considered a work of experimental fiction, and should not be taken to be "typical" in the way it does things.
     
  9. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Aren't you writing events in chronological order? Why wouldn't you? If you're writing events in proper order, just give some indication as to the elapsed time between chapters.

    I think it's ok if the events seem unrelated, providing that the content is interesting. This could actually be a point of interest in itself, as the reader wonders how the different events will come together to form a complete picture.

    As noted, it would help if you explain better.
     
  10. kyle777
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    kyle777 Member

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    It would be quite hard for us to judge when we don't know the contents of your story. Therefore, you are the judge. No offense to you, but I've seen a lot of writers on here who ask questions that can really, in the end, be solved by their own judgement. And so, from that, it might suit the story you're writing to have standalone chapters. But the opposite might be true too. Generally, though, in order for the reader to enjoy what they're reading, the chapters *should* have a consistent flow. But that's entirely up to you.
     
  11. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    It depends on how far you are into the story. If it's early on and there's no clear link between the events and POV's in each chapter, as a reader I wouldn't mind, and as Kas said would probably be more inclined to read on to see how everything links up.
    If it's later on near the end of the novel, you probably do have a problem. By the climax of a story the reader should have some ideas or expectations about where the plot is going, if only so the author can prove them wrong.

    It might also be helpful to get someone else to read through your work and see if they feel the same about the chapter transitions as you do. Also ask them if they pick up any other flaws in the manuscript. I've often found that self criticism often exaggerates certain area and ignores others, which is why it’s useful to get an outside opinion.
     
  12. Godlet
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    Godlet New Member

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    Yes, exactly. Although I didn't intend for it to have such a weird flow, I must say it's somewhat appealing on a certain level to me. Why not have a grain of confusion? Most fiction spoon-feeds you with information anyway. Wallow in the mental fog, trying to erode it.;)

    And thanks to everyone for the input.
     

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