1. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    What's this method called?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by raisin, Jan 3, 2011.

    I am writing a story. It is based on a modern theme and is a family story. But I want to write it in a jumbled up order of events. Something like the movie momento but in a lighter fashion. I forgot the name of this technique by which you tell the story by moving forward and backward.

    I started it off and made someone read a chapter. But a reader told me he wasn't able to understand/got confused by this method. So put the chapters in a possible order and the story looked dry.

    Is it montage? How can I use this technique effectively?
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    The simplest answer is to let the readers know the time and place of a scene when you are hopping between past-present-future. This is nothing new in fiction writing, many writers employ non-chronological order technique to tell a story.
    -The simplest way to let the readers know the time and place is to use phrases like "two years ago in London", "one day earlier in the same school" etc. or simply giving us the date "February, 1947, Berlin:"
    -You can also achieve this through setting descriptions. Example: change in season.
    -Descriptions of characters can also help. You are writing about an adult, and in the next scene when you write about when he/she was a child, readers know they are going back in the past.
    -Grammatically, you may use the present tense-past tense mix; the main narration in present tense and past events and flashbacks in past tense. Also, if you're writing in past tense, you can use past perfect tense to bring up small scenes from the past, but it is not advisable for longer scenes.
    -For very long scenes and events you may consider writing past and present events as separate chapters.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would suggest mastering linear narrative first, before you try screwing around with timelines. Screwing around with timelines in a way that readers can still follow takes skill and a great deal of attention to detail.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    listen to minstrel... he's right!
     
  5. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Ditto Minstrel and Mama.

    Even if you include headers letting the reader know where/when they are, there is a huge likelihood of readers getting confused. If the story means a lot to you (in that form), then certainly keep it in the back of your mind, but work on practicing your basic techniques first.

    You mentioned "Momento". To keep with movie analogies, I'm thinking Pulp Fiction. To my mind, at least, the movie scenes seem to be ordered from immoral to moral, rather than chronologically. At least that was my take on it.

    -Frank
     
  6. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    Thanks all. You guys are awesome. :D

    For this story, I think it would be much better to have a messed up chonology than a linear narrative. The story is simple and there are not many characters or sub plots.

    I think I shall use small headings for the setting. This will give both the reader and myself a better idea of the progress of the story. And especially to me, I will notice if there are any parts missing that need to be added later on. Let me reshuffle them and get back to you.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. Jonalexher
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    Jonalexher Contributing Member

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    As other have said, it's a hard technique to master, but maybe you can pull it off. Give it a try if you feel ready :]. And yes, Pulp Fiction would be a better example :p
     
  8. xxkozxx
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    xxkozxx Active Member

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    There is no substitute for characters and sub plots. If you have to jumble up the story to make it more interesting because your characters are not developed enough to have their own sub plots then you may refocus your efforts there first.
     
  9. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    Yes, but won't the OP instantly win a literary award for being impossible to understand?
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    probably, if he's not a good enough writer to pull it off...
     
  11. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    Jokes apart, I have problems in developing my character. Though their motives are clearly visualised idk how to reveal them slowly through the advancing plot. That way I think I am experimenting with the montage tech shifting back and forth so that my reader would get small surprises every now and then about their characters.

    Its my first story and I don't want to throw it in for lit crit. My story is neither a thriller nor a romance. It is a realistic story wherein fate plays with an individual's life. My humans are full of flaws like ordinary human beings and their mistakes are real and incorrigible.

    Also, the OP is a she and not a he.
     

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