1. ΣΕΙΡΙΟΣ
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    ΣΕΙΡΙΟΣ New Member

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    Two time-lines structure

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ΣΕΙΡΙΟΣ, Sep 14, 2013.

    Hi to all!

    I am currently writing an epic fantasy novel (no medieval setting), having the outline of the plot finished, I am stuck in the narrative structure. I am using omniscient and my narration starts in media res. My dilemma is about how to describe the events of the past (before the start of narration). One way is flashbacks mostly through dialog but I thought of an another way and I would like to know your opinion on that..

    Instead of using flashbacks I am going to use two time-lines, one set in the past and one set in the present. Let me give you the general structure: A story is like A (beginning), B (middle), C (end). My narration starts in B and follows linear progression to C but instead of presenting the events of part A in flashbacks I am going to present them in different chapters up until the last event of part A which is actually the begging of part B. So you'll have for example two chapters of linear progression in part B driving gradually the plot foreword to C followed by a chapter set in A (all the "interrupt" chapters set in A will gradually lead the plot towards the beginning of B). My question is would you like to read a narration like this?

    Thank you for reading.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    So long as said structure presents a reason for being. As an example, Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark has an unusual structure. If you think of the chronological order of events in the chapters as a numerical sequence, the book is set up like this:

    10 - 1 - 9 - 2 - 8 - 3 - 7 - 4 - 6 - 5

    But it makes a strange kind of sense that one needs to read to understand. Though the chronology is folded in half and laid upon itself in staggered form, there is still a content and context connection between each chapter and the one the physically follows, even though it doesn't chronologically follow.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I ended up with a similar structure, but for a reason. First, I wrote the scenes/chapters ignoring the problem. It wasn't necessary to solve the problem right off the bat. It made more sense to get a better idea of the story first.

    As the story came together I settled on two parallel timelines. My story is YA but things that shaped my protag in her childhood were part of the story. They weren't something I wanted to reveal as little snippets of backstory or recollection flashbacks. But I did not want to start the story with a 10 yr old protag when the story was about older teens and young adults. Also, the childhood was in single event scenes, about one a year as she grew up, while the story itself is a continuous event in one time frame.

    So I decided on two parallel stories, with interspersed chapters that come together in the timeline about halfway through the story when my protag gets back to her village after being taken away. The first scene in the book is a very short scene at ten. Then the events unfold with the protag at 17 and the main story action starts with more chapters from the past integrated in.

    I suggest writing the story (more than just the outline) without concern about how you will eventually structure it. See how extensive 'part A' is or needs to be. That will give you a better idea if it needs a whole section or can be inserted as backstory. Be prepared to throw some of it out (hard to do but necessary sometimes) if need be. I ended up with a few scenes that were unnecessary but I didn't consider them a waste. They allowed me to know my protag better but in the end they were redundant for the reader. I tried to keep each earlier year scenes revealing something significant and different about my characters.
     

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