1. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    The flashback

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MJ Preston, Apr 25, 2010.

    What would be the best way to pursue this?

    The way I write is using sub-chapters.

    I am writing in the present tense with a boy as he bumbles through the woods and he is thinking back to when he ventured into a section of the forest where his father had forbidden him to go.

    So here is a super condensed way of putting it:

    1​
    Little Derek was moving through the tree line, holding the stick he'd picked up along the way. His father had forbidden him to go into the woods North of this small copse. Daddy had taken him deer hunting twice before.

    2​
    Derek had only intended on going a few hundred yards into the woods, but quickly became disoriented and ended up completely lost. The towering spruce trees overhead blocked out the path of the sun and as he attempted to work his way out of the canopy he was actually venturing even deeper into the forest.

    Disregard any grammar and focus on the structure. Does it make sense to do this? Any other suggestions?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in a word, 'no!'...

    the separation and numbering are totally confusing to me... numbering should be left only to full chapter changes...

    the second part, if it's intended to be a flashback, doesn't read like one at all... it seems to be a continuation of the part above it...

    as for suggestions, i need to know what it is you're trying to do here, first... did you intend for those two parts to be about different forays into the woods?... is the second supposed to be the boy recalling another time?... if so, why mention two previous events and then focus on only one without telling us you're doing that?

    and i don't see any present tense in any of that... am i confused, or are you?... ;-)
     
  3. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    Let me a bit more clear here. When I say sub-chapter I mean a single chapter broken into subchapters. In many books I have read this is common place. The example I gave is perhaps a poor demonstration of what I am asking. I'll paste an actual excerpt

     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I tjink you are referring to section breaks, which are indicated in manuscript by a single centered # on a line by itself. In final print, it usually appears as extra vertical spacing, unless the break occurs at a page boundary, in which case some manner of centered graphic would appear at the break.

    The problem is, your transitions are less than clear. It isn't easy to tell whic passages take place in the present and which ones are in the past. That is a matter of writing, not of breaks. Because Derek figures highly in both scenes, and the scenarios are so similar, you will have a tougher time making the transitions work. You may be better off making the transition s occur at chapter boundaries, even though it means staying longer in each time period and not having as obvious a parallel for each element. Trust the reader to make the connection.

    If you do make your breaks at chapter breaks, you can use dates in the chapter heading to make the transition clear. Sue Grafton uses this approach in her latest novel, U is for Undertow. Such date headers can be done at section breaks too, in all fairness, but I personally don't like to see a chapter cluttered up that way, nor do I care for chapters to jump timelines in the middle anyway.
     
  5. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    Thanks Cogito, I plan on sorting out this transition issue over the next few days.

    The chapter itself flips back between past and present so I will have to look at making a clear transition.

    Anyway, I'll work on it and post a few examples here when I think I've figured this out.
     
  6. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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    Okay, did a retool trying to establish a difference between the two timelines.

    Have a gander and let me know if this clears up the confusion between timelines.

     

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