1. Sandfire
    Offline

    Sandfire Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    6

    Style Continuity

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sandfire, Sep 6, 2013.

    Looking for some thoughts/advice here:

    Is it important to maintain continuity in writing style over the course of a series?

    I've already written the first two books of my fantasy trilogy. The first one was pretty strictly chronological. I fudged things a bit on the second and opened with a scene in the future and went back and wrote up to that moment--so except for that opening hook, it was still chronological.

    I'm now getting ready to write the third, and I'm debating whether or not to allow myself to break the chronology a bit. I want to be able to go back and explore scenes that happened in the past (mostly in the intervening years between book 2 and 3), but I'm concerned that changing the style to include such 'flashbacks' would be disruptive to the trilogy. Is that the mistake of an immature writer or a new element to keep the series fresh?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    I don't consider using flashbacks to be a stylistic issue. Stylistic issues would be things like comma placement, length of sentences, arranging words/phrases to obtain the greatest impact, etc.

    But to answer your question, I don't think it's that important. Most readers probably won't notice or won't care enough to stop reading.
     
  3. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I agree with @thirdwind; he pretty much summed up what I was thinking, on both accounts. Basically you're thinking what kind of structure would serve your story the best, and there's nothing mistak-y about that.

    Your beta readers will be able to tell you whether the flashbacks etc. work or whether they disrupt the flow or make the story confusing or whatever, then you'll know better.
     
  4. E. C. Scrubb
    Offline

    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2012
    Messages:
    413
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Southwest US
    As others have said, that isn't really an issue for style. However, have a look around here and other sites about what some people say about flashbacks. As a reader, I'm tempted to just skim them, or jump them altogether because I'm so caught up in the story that I don't want to take time out to read the flashback. A caveat to that is small flashbacks of a couple lines or a paragraph, especially if you can put that in instead of describing an action:

    John gave the wall one look and his knee started throbbing. It was a year ago that the killer pomeranian chased him through this alley. He jumped, caught the top of the wall, and hoisted himself up, only to catch his kneecap and separate it as he flung his body over. Ain't no way that's happening again! He set off on the long journey around the block, rather than taking the shortcut.

    Yeah, cheesy example, but those kind of things are fine for me as a ready. Give me two or three pages, and I end up just skimming it at times, unless I'm thoroughly engrossed in it, and it actually tells another part of the story and maybe even carries on it's own story line. I'm thinking here about the tv interpretation of Arrow, where I'm finding the backstory being told in flashbacks is just as compelling as the main story.
     
    KaTrian likes this.
  5. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Well, it's called a flashback, isn't it? So why not try and make it a flash in the novel, too? :p

    I talk about this novel way too much, but in Metro 2033, there were sizable chunks of flashbacks / backstory, but it was really damn interesting even though I, too, tend to be a flashback-skipper. I was dying to know what had been going on in the Moscow metro after the nuclear war and what kind of incidents had happened.
     
  6. Sandfire
    Offline

    Sandfire Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    6
    If not a stylistic element, what would you call it, then? Sorry, still learning the jargon...

    Thanks for the opinions. I'll have to play with it. I guess I'm trying to figure out a way to capture the key moments of the intervening years, and I'm not sure I can convey all of what I want in that tight a 'flash'. Does it make a difference if longer flashbacks all involve characters the reader is already invested in? The MC from the previous books isn't going to be in this one much, but I do want to show some of what he did to prepare the new MCs.
     
  7. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    A flashback is simply a literary device.
     
  8. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Again, to use Metro 2033, as an example. The flashbacks to previous events were recounted by a character the reader is yet to familiriaze his/herself with, but the content was intriguing so it didn't matter.

    With the characters the reader already knows... I started to think about Battlestar Galactica and the flashbacks to the lives of the MCs on Caprica. Those flashes became more prominent on the show after we knew the characters pretty well, if my memory serves me right.

    Anyway, you can do both. Perhaps with the latter it'll be likelier the reader is interested in the flashback, as long as it serves a function.

    It's difficult to say for sure. Have people beta read your story/ies. That ought to give you a better idea of what works in your story's context and what doesn't.
     
  9. wolfenburg
    Offline

    wolfenburg Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    California

    I was born in Moscow. But I remember nothing of that time
     
  10. idle
    Offline

    idle Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    one of the hearts of Europe
    Well, nobody remembers the time when they were born. :)
     

Share This Page