1. Benska
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    Benska Member

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    Skipping years...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Benska, Jan 5, 2009.

    Is it okay to write about 4 or so chapters, for example, where the MC is about 14 years of age, and then skip ahead about 3 or 4 years, and continue the story from there, where he is a totally different kind of a person? Much more mature, and sort of hardened.

    Okay, I think I already know the answer to that question. A better one would be: How would I do it? I mean without the reader being all like: ok, what the hell just happened? And without using something corny like: 4 years later ?

    Thanks.

    ~Ben
     
  2. Mello
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    Mello Member

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    that's fine to do in a story, as long as you do it right.
    as for doing it right...what I keep thinking of is that you could use some other object, thing or person in the story that ages or changes with time and make it relative to him somehow, describing how it was when he was 14, and then starting off your flash-forward with a description of how it is now. If you're trying to avoid saying "4 years later" at all, you could just mention what year it was when he was 14, example 1998, and then, in the flash-forward, offhandedly mention that it was now 2002 or something. I hope you get what I meant by this.
     
  3. Benska
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    Benska Member

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    Ah yes. The aging-an-object-with-him thing sounds like a plan. The story is sci-fi/fantasy-ish, and the world is at a kind of 'golden age' - tachnology improving rapidly, vast changes in the governmental system etc. so I may use the surrounding world as the 'example'.
    Also, by using "4 Years later," I meant something blatent: beginning a chapter with it, or something similar.

    Actually, now i'm coming up with a few different ways, haha.

    This was helpful, thanks =].
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    One approach is to make it another Part (containing a group of chapters) when there is a big discontinuity in the chronology. Start the new part with a scene that shows the character doing something that would not be typical of him before. In your example, he could be working on a term paper, or trying to coax heat from the broken down radiator in his cheap apartment, or looking for where he left his car keys. You can pin down the exact amount of time later, by context, but the first thing is to just make the reader aware that there HAS been a passage of time. Even switching seasons can be an opening cue - he's shovelling snow, but the last we saw of him he and his friends were running under a lawn sprinkler to cool off.
     
  5. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I'll give the opposite example of Cog. What if he were doing something familiar from the first part, however he was doing much much better in the second part.

    For example, he painted but, had a hard time with the human figure. In the new part he is depicting the human form almost perfectly.
     
  6. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I think a good way to handle this would be when you switch, start a new chapter, and start with a little description of where your charector is, how they are feeling, which should sound more mature and different from when you were first writing about them, and then mentione something like:-
    "four years had past since the accident but i still felt the same about it"
    or something like that.

    Hope that helps :)
     
  7. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Ok Cog and Dcoin have great suggestions. I would go with one of those.

    Either way make sure you say part one, part two and so on. It will get the readers mind ready for the time jump.
     
  8. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    I'd wonder if it's entirely necessary to have that much information about your MC 3 or 4 years prior. I mean, you can show that your character changed without necessarily having to write several chapters about a time in the character's life that isn't directly relevant to the story you are writing. In the story I'm writing I find that I have so much information about my character that ends up getting left out, but even though those paragraphs are left out they are still built into who the character is. Less is more. Things can be implied.
    I could be completely off, you know what you want to do more than I, but that's what occurred to me.
    Otherwise, I do enjoy stories that switch back and forth from a past to the present throughout. So you have your MC as an adult and flashbacks about their childhood, kind of as two separate plots that converge in the climax.
     
  9. Benska
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    Benska Member

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    I have considered these options, and I'm still not sure exactly what I am going to do as my novel is still in the 'concept' stage. I'm still not exactly sure about alot of things... Just trying to look at things from different angles to see what feels right =].
     
  10. Demief
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    Demief Member

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    You could use memory. Have your character in the future remembering something that you wrote about in the past. Even in an offhand way. Such as "that person looked like that person he knew".

    I have the same problem but i'm trying to weave the past and present throughout my novel. Frustrating.
     

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