1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Style What would you call this style of writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jun 28, 2014.

    OK, so I'm currently reading a horror book called Snowblind by Christopher Golden and I'm not really sure what to call his style of writing. Essentially, it's about a group of people facing a supernatural blizzard (well, more like there's a spirit/ghost/demon inside the blizzard, I'm still in the first chapter) much like the one that claimed their loved ones twelve years ago. Well, he spends four chapters (I checked) in the past building up the horrors of the first blizzard before jumping forward to modern times where the actual story begins. Effectively, you could almost interpret those four chapters to be the 'prologue'. It also doesn't help that the blurb on the front cover flap pretty much spoils the first four chapters by revealing who lived and who died during the first blizzard.

    I'm also reminded of another supernatural horror book I read (of which I can't remember the name of now, sadly) where it jumped back and forth between 1914 and present times. My question is, what would you call this style of writing? Is it normal in supernatural horror novels to spend some time in the past before jumping forward in the present, or to jump back and forth between the past and the present? Why do some authors choose to do this? Doesn't it disrupt the flow of the story?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    It's quite common in storytelling. I was reminded of "Fried Green Tomatoes" by an earlier post today, and that was told in two different time frames - though the present acted more as a frame for the past story. Lovecraft's "The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward", if I remember, tells its story in multiple times. King's "It" does, too.

    It certainly *can* create problems with the flow - more from the reader getting confused with the time frame of the passage they are reading, and with which people and events are happening in a particular time.

    However, telling a story in multiple locations has similar difficulties.

    -Frank
     
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  3. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I have written a novel that does that. It starts in the present, then jumps back five weeks.

    The entire novel is a flashback, which culminates when you finally catch up to where you started.

    To further complicate things, there is another story that is also told via flashbacks. A parallel tale which evolves separately, even though it is connected to the main plot. It is not confusing though, since the two stories are separated by a century.

    All the plot lines finish at the same place and time however, and you experience the starting point again, but this time you know more, you understand more and you see more. The climax occurs, going beyond the beginning of the novel.

    It was not difficult to create the multithreaded aspect, but since the story has not been beta read by very many people, it is hard to know if it was a successful technique.

    Personally, I am all in favour, although to reference the original post, four chapters is a bit long winded to set the scene. I would have thought one chapter would have been sufficient for this purpose. Unless, of course, they are very short chapters. For me, that would likely be 25-30K. Quite a chunk just to establish the premise!
     
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  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @FrankABlissett - True. I just find it a bit irksome because you get so invested with the characters, so involved with whatever's going on with them but then the author halts everything and sends you forward in time. This book, at least, has the same characters as before, just twelve years later, so the blow is softer. The book I mentioned in which I couldn't remember the title was less so. It cut off the 1914 chapter right when the emotions were at their highest with the family frantic about their daughter's disappearance, to the modern times with two high school kids in a beat up truck getting drunk and listening to music.

    Not that it's a bad thing to jump back and forth. :D That said, at least she did indicate the year when we jumped back to 1914.

    @Mike Kobernus - I'm of the same mindset. Those four chapters could be easily condensed into one chapter, and I'm tempted to skip forward to where the story actually begins (on Page 55 in my copy.) I guess what I'm saying is that if done well, I don't mind time skips. But if it cuts off in the middle of an emotionally charged scene to something completely unrelated, or the 'past' drags out for far longer than it really should just to build up the background, I get miffed at it.
     
  5. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Right - I hate books where I'm constantly having to skip back to remember just what's going on. I'm not the best at remembering names, so I've come to accept it when dealing with books that have lots of characters, but it does tend to pull me out of the story.

    -Frank
     

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