1. GreyArea
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    GreyArea New Member

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    Stream of consciousness advice

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GreyArea, Mar 5, 2013.

    So I'm working on a short story, but having trouble getting started. Its a supernatural piece whose main character is a veteran with severe PTSD. Hey quit laughing...

    I want to incorporate flashbacks into the narrative, but I'm not sure the best way to go about doing it without sounding trite.

    Was thinking about interspersing the flashbacks (in italics?) with the regular story, but thought it might be confusing. That or some Sound and the Fury style SOC. Never tried writing it before.

    Either way, style is my number one priority, without breaking from the general flow of the narrative. Any ideas?

    Yes this is my first post...I'll post a proper introduction one of these days.
     
  2. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    My suggestion is to write two stories, write the "present day" narrative, get the plot and events sorted for that with simple placeholders for the flashback scenes.
    Do the same process for the "flashback" narrative, detailing all the events, even the events that are only alluded to or don't fully feature in the story.

    Once you have these two separate manuscripts you can work on weaving them together. Because you now have both story lines drafted in full you can now look at the whole sequence, maybe picking flashbacks out of sequence to actual events as required by the story. You could maybe even tell the flashback story in retrograde, starting with the trauma that gave him PTSD as the first flashback.

    That's what I would do and is in essence what I am doing with my novel. :)
     
  3. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    Stream of consciousness is quite difficult to pull off. By all means try it, but you probably won't do it very well for a long time yet.

    Oh, and you mentioned writing in the style of Faulkner as though it would be less confusing- he did use italics, and it was confusing as hell. I've read it twice and it still takes me a long time to get everything straight in my head.

    A couple of books do the flashbacks as separate chapters (e.g. Chapters 1 - 5: Present; Chapter 6: Past; Chapter 7-8: Present) and use the chapter name to denote it as the past, either through the wording of it, or by including a date. That's the neatest way to do it, though it's hardly the most impressive. If you're going to intersperse flashbacks in the text, you'll need some sort of trigger or marker. Jumping between the past and the present (even while using italics) can get quite messy and/or slow everything down- and in real life you don't reminisce (or in your case, have waking nightmares) about the past without something prompting it.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    do not use italics for large amounts of text... they're hard to read and annoying for most people and will brand you as an amateur to agents and publishers...

    there are other much better ways to set off flashbacks...
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A flashback is simply a scene change, out of chronological order. As such, the scene transition needs to be well managed, but don't play font games.
     

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