1. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Too many flashbacks in the opening chapter?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by E. C. Scrubb, Jul 29, 2012.

    Alright,

    I'm writing a Harry Potter Fanfiction - I know, but I am! ;)


    The first chapter of course, is a setup, and also an explanation of why the alternate universe will be acceptable.

    Now, beyond that, most if not all the normal rules of writing apply to FF as well, so...

    As my main character (Fleur Delacour) is sitting in a meeting of the Order, I have her flashing back to:

    1. The death of her father when she was three years old. (flashback starts by seeing Bill Weasley-her canon husband, for those of you non-HP fans-and thinking about the bad timing in meeting him, because the Order has given her the opportunity to get back at people who killed her father).

    2. The night she tried to visit Harry P. in the infirmary after Voldemort resurrected (sets the stage for how she got involved, and also introduces a slightly AU Ron).

    3. Her own headmistress and Fleur discussing Fleur coming back to teach in a couple years, maybe even taking a T.A/assitant lecturer position this year, which Fleur of course turned down (This is important because it is how I get around her being 18 years old and teaching).

    These three flashbacks set the stage for the major conflict of the story introduced in the first chapter - why Fleur Delacour will teach at Hogwarts in the fall, specifically, to keep an eye on Harry, and to oppose Dolores Umbridge (a Pureblood bigot, for the HP-nonfans).

    So - too many flashbacks? I know it can mainly be in the writing, but I am also interested in your first reaction thoughts. The first flashback is just a few lines long. The second is probably a page to a page and a half worth, and the third is probably a few lines again.

    I guess what I'm worried about, is the main scene feeling like it's bogging down while the background is there, but I don't want to do an "info-dump" either.

    Thought? Opinions? Darts?
     
  2. Saul-hudson
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    Saul-hudson New Member

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    I don't think it's a case of too many, but rather how your writing holds together while you're doing it. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with flashbacks - but most people may suggest you sooth the flow of them by spreading them out. But if you're looking to have all the big parts set out in the first chapter then try it by writing it.

    I'll also add the way I'd do it. Not because I want to put my fingers into your pie, but because, being as you asked, I thought I could illustrate. :)

    You could just start with the flashback to the night/day her father died and roll with the page or two of that (but don't include anything in that to say its a flashback until much later). Perhaps he got taken to hospital and it just happened to be the same hospital as HP was in at the time. There, of course, you can include a whole conversation about her meeting with the Order. At that point you can slowly pull it out - perhaps by having her being somewhat reminiscent outside the hospital ... and that would bring you neatly, in my mind, to the real start of your story without it seeming too blatantly obvious you're dealing with a flashback.

    Like I said, that's just the way I'd do it. I didn't mean to poke my nose too far into it, but sometimes dealing with a lot of flashbacks in the opening chapter can be a little hard to swallow. But if you're really intent on doing them as separate flashbacks, maybe consider spreading them out over a number of chapters.
     
  3. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I'm not a proponent of flashbacks, especially in the first chapter. Personally, I find it to be lazy writing because the same information can be sprinkled through out the story, talked about between characters, in dialogue...there's many different ways to do this.
     
  4. Saul-hudson
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    Saul-hudson New Member

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    If you're using it only to preface the bigger picture I doubt it matters. Done as I mentioned (not that I'm an expert) would surely get the larger parts out the way. If it's written well enough, and you never realise you're reading a flashback until it's over, I hardly think this is lazy writing.

    But on the flip side of that, if you there was a desire to make it a much larger volume, then, yes, scattering it throughout the book would be an option.

    But that's just my opinion.
     
  5. cuetip29
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    cuetip29 New Member

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    There's nothing wrong with a healty dose of HP fanfic. I wrote my fare share back in the day and, especially when using OC's, it can be a great excercise for writing. That being said, I'm one of those people who typically hate flashbacks. I think its lazy writing. Although an occasional one is acceptable, I feel that three in one chapter might be a bit much. I would suggest using a prologue (which a lot of ppl also say is taboo, but I don't mind them at all). This way you can use one of those scenes you originally planned as a flashback and can write it in detail without having to resort to an actual flashback. Then I would suggest weaving the rest of the information throughout the fic. Good luck with it!
     
  6. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I normally don't like them either - but the way I'm trying to set the hook for the story - I just can't really find another way without writing a chapter that jumps from scene to scene through a decade and a half of history, history that's important for the hook to be believed.

    I think, I may just have to finish the opening chapter, then post it in the proper section for you all to have at it and tell me if it works or not. The other issue, is that all three flashbacks lay groundwork for subthemes or themes in the story.

    Hmmm.... more thinking to be done!
     

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