1. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    Time Gap

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Foxe, Feb 8, 2014.

    I am currently organizing a story idea (something I have never done; trying this process for a change) for which the first scene throws the protagonist into crisis. However, there is a time gap between the crisis event where the protagonist gets banished from the life he knew and his timely return, at which point the story continues linearly. I have three potential options I could introduce the crisis:

    Option one would have the crisis introduced as a prologue, perhaps even in another character's perspective. This one is my favourite and it's this one I'd most like hear the opinion of the community.
    Option two would be to integrate the crisis into the story, revealing parts of what had unfolded a bit at a time; my least favourite.
    Option three - to visit the crisis as a 'flashback' chapter early on. The beginning of the story would be a little mysterious, and the readers would not fully understand his complete motives until the crisis explored. This idea is a close second.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Write the story and answer the question later. That may sound confusing or odd, but you might be surprised how well it works.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree, to some extent with what @GingerCoffee says here. However, I'm struck by how similar your dilemma is to the one I faced when I wrote my novel.

    You can write the whole story first, scene by scene and decide later how to present the crisis. However, I think you need to ask yourself: what does the reader need to know, in order to follow your story the way you want them to?

    Do you want this story to be a bit of a mystery? Do you want your reader's fun to come from gradually discovering WHAT the protagonist's early experience was? Dicovering WHY he's the way he is today? If that's the case, by all means write the story in a linear manner, starting with the story's 'present.' Introduce intriguing flashbacks as needed to keep our interest piqued, and let our understanding of your character grow as the story progresses. Just start with Chapter One and write forward.

    If you want us to follow HOW your protagonist copes with fallout from his early experiences, then we'll need to know what these experiences were, right at the start. Your other characters don't need to know about his past—he can be a complete mystery to them—but WE, the readers, do. If you take this road, then a prologue is the best option. And before the anti-prologue brigade starts screaming no no no no no and running off in all directions–a prologue should never be a boring info-dump. Make us LIVE this crisis with your character, or whoever's POV you choose to tell us this portion of the tale. It should be as exciting and relevant as any other part of your story. It's called a prologue only because it is separated by many years from the rest of your story. Calling it Chapter One is misleading, as you'd expect Chapter Two to follow on directly. Calling it Prologue indicates there's likely to be a time separation between it and the following chapters.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  4. Foxe
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    Foxe Active Member

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    Thanks for the responses. @jannert - your second point really resonated with me. The crisis needs to be explained to understand the how the character goes forward in the story -- so I think I will choose a prologue because it's an important scene and also because it happens way before the story 'goes linear'. However, that being said, the crisis is also a very intense scene where the readers don't have a moment to settle nicely into the protagonist's life before things get shaken.

    Foxe
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're describing MY story to a T!

    In my first draft I only hinted at my inciting incident, with wee flashbacks, up until the 'big truth' was revealed at the end. And of course my first beta readers spent the bulk of the story wondering why my protagonist was behaving oddly. (Or as one of them bluntly put it: What's WITH this guy?) This was NOT the response I wanted. o_O

    When I wrote the inciting incident into a prologue (which happens 6 years before the rest of the story) the focus changed completely. Now my readers know what happened between my protagonist and another character, and the story has taken on a much darker and more suspenseful tone. Huge difference.

    Your instinct to go for a prologue was correct, wasn't it? Trust your instincts. They sound as if they're pretty sharp. Good luck and have fun.
     

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