1. Similyn
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    Similyn Member

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    Multiple things going on at the same time

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Similyn, Feb 14, 2012.

    I'm currently working on a chapter that has three different scenes that happen in the same time frame. I'm trying to build suspense in this chapter. As I see it, I could handle it one of two ways:
    1. I could write a number of small scenes and keep the time frame linear (but this may break up the suspense factor I was aiming for). Or...
    2. I could just write three scenes and backtrack (but I fear confusing my readers doing it this way).

    I should mention that I have some characters who show up in different scenes. For example: Person A is in scene one, then moves to scene three. But between scene one and three, runs into Person B. Person B then ends up in scene one. Then Person C starts off in scene two, but moves to scene three before Person A leaves scene one.

    And I've probably just made you guys dizzy just trying to follow that. Sigh. It's really not that confusing when reading the actual story, though.

    Basically the gist of what is happening is that someone is executing a plan with a group of people. And in order for the plan to be successful, three different things must happen at the same time. The three different parts of the plan are the three different scenes. But I also need to move characters around in order for people to be in the right place at the right time.

    I can't condense it to just one person's pov and observing the others around him/her because they are in three different locations.

    I hope I'm making sense. I only had four hours sleep last night so my brain is iffy at the moment.

    So, the question is, how should I handle the scenes? Linear with smaller scenes? Or backtracking with just three larger scenes?

    Edit: I need to just not post at 1:00am. I just saw a similar post below. Sorry about that. Though this is a little different seeing as it's taking place in separate places.
     
  2. larryprg
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    larryprg Senior Member

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    Movies and TV shows do this stuff all the time. Maybe we could get some help by reading a few scripts and/or screen plays?

    I'm trying to do almost the same thing, only with two totally separate major themes running parallel through the entire work, with many scenes occurring at the same time.

    Some scenes interact with each other, though I don't have the problem of the same people being in both major themes.

    I'm certainly interested in what others post about this.
     
  3. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Yep. Like, a scene will start out with "3:47pm Wednesday, Shiring" across the screen and the next scene will say "3:47pm Wednesday, London," for example. Feel free to just spell it right out.
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    There's different ways you could do it, and I think anything will work as long as it's well-written and not confusing for the reader.

    If you have many small scenes (i.e. switching the POV every couple of paragraphs), make sure you're mentioning names/locations/other identifying factors right in the first sentence of each scene shift. Don't state it, like "Meanwhile, Dave sat in his office with Bob and Jill." Make it obvious in a way that's in-passing and feels natural, but obvious nonetheless.

    If you do only 3 scenes in the chapter, one for each frame, put something in the beginning of each scene to let readers know that it's all at the same time. I.e. someone glances over at the clock and the time is exactly the same all three times. Again, include it as a casual in-passing mention - don't make it its own paragraph and inflate it to a huge deal. This falls under infodump category.

    Or, as Johanna said, you could just say it, but if you do, don't make it part of the actual narrative. Make it a bolded subtitle or something instead.
     
  5. jeffbarker
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    jeffbarker Member

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    If you've ever read the Patrick Bowers series by Steven James, I think it's almost exactly what you're looking at. When he switches scenes he uses locations and certain cues to set up the time such as how Mallory stated with looking at the clocks. I would suggest just looking at his books if you like thrillers.

    As long as you write them out and they flow it should actually be just fine I'd think.

    I'd be happy to read and give you my suggestions when you write it though!
     
  6. Similyn
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    Similyn Member

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    Thanks a lot for the help! :) I'll take a cup of this and a pinch of that, mix it with a spoonful of my own ingenuity and I think we have a recipe for success. I'll just need to change a couple of pov, when certain scenes start and end, then enter some time points and it should work.
     
  7. larryprg
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    larryprg Senior Member

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    Ditto!
     

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