1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Writing 2 different Generations

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Apr 18, 2012.

    I've been working on this story for years, and it's taken a lot of changes lately. For the better, I hope.

    From the very beginning, it's been a story that focused on two different generations in a family line. I was planning on the start from doing a series, but I thought more about what cog said lately, about just trying to get one book published, and that made sense. But, I still want to keep it open for sequels...I mean, that's what the past 5 years of my writing has been about, I refuse to just abandon all that work.

    Nevertheless, I've been trying to combine as much of the two different stories between the generations into one story, but some of it just can't be done, and they're two different stories.

    My real question is, do you think it works better to show what has happened, or what will happen first? Meaning, if it's a one story about a grandfather, and one about a grandson, do you find it more powerful to show the grandfather's history first, or the grandson's? And I know that a lot of you will say it depends on the story, but I'm just looking for opinions. I can see the benefits of both.

    To do the grandfather's story first, I can bring back characters and problems from the past that people thought had been long resolved. To do the grandson's story first, I can open up questions as to what happened in the past that have caused things to turn out this way? I'm trying to make it so I can do all of this together. Maybe through flashbacks.

    Thoughts? Other advantages/disadvantages to both?
     
  2. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    I think I can actually get the results I want from both, possibly, but it would require time jumps. I don't necessarily want it to be flashbacks, because it shouldn't be a character remembering anything, just showing what happened in the past to reveal information at the right time. Think LOST maybe. How would I do that in writing? Would it jar the reader too much?
     
  3. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    You said it yourself, it depends on the story. Who is the MC? I know this is a story about a family, but who is really driving the book forward? The description of what you are reminding me reminds me of a book by Rebecca Wells called "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." It's completely a chick lit read (and was turned into a horrible movie with Sandra Bullock I think?) Anyways, the point is, Wells does this traveling forward and backward but the story is really about Siddalee Walker and her horrible relationship with her mother. (here's the wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Secrets_of_the_Ya-Ya_Sisterhood). So, maybe figure out the overarching context for the story and that may help you figure out where to start.

    Another route you could take would be to follow Faulkner's lead (slight daunting, I know). In the book "As I Lay Dying," Faulkner chooses a handful of characters to tell portions of the same story, which is to bury the matriarch of the family. Faulkner uses a similar device in "The Sound and the Fury," but divides the book into four sections (all that fall at different points in time) and each has a different narrator. One of his narrators is even a third-person omniscient Again, the story itself is about the dissolution of the family unit and each section shows to illustrate the culmination of it. Obviously trying to imitate devices used by Faulkner is slightly frightening, but they are the two examples that popped into my head when I was reading your post. (wikipedia entry for The Sound and the Fury: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_and_the_Fury)

    I don't know whether is is helpful, but these were the first three books that popped into my head.
     
  4. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    It's definitely not an uncommon thing. Star Wars focuses on two different generations. Lord of the Rings does too, with the Hobbit. Just as big name examples.

    But take SW for instance: by starting with episode 4, the reader wants to know how Vader became Vader, what the galaxy was like in its prime, etc etc. It opens up a lot of interesting questions that way.

    By starting with episode 1, you have the potential to bring back old characters to create more emotion -- e.g. if you watch 1-3, then watch episode 4, you wonder what happened to Yoda. Then in episode 5, it would be a big moment to see him come back. The same might be true of the Emperor. If you build something up, and then put it away, it can provide for a dramatic reveal later. It also draws some nostalgia, and seeing a new cast of characters to take the place of the old ones can be a big emotional impact too. It's almost like it's the end of an era.

    I guess my problem is I hate having to choose one over the other. I know I have to, but I can't for the life of me figure out which one is the right decision.
     
  5. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Well if that's the case - maybe just start writing and see where it takes you? I mean, what if you just chose one perspective and went with it. And then try the next perspective and see where it takes you. It might help you decide. Or if you don't want to go through the trouble of writing and rewriting - outline doing it one way and then outline it doing another?

    Or, if all else fails, flip a coin haha

    If you provide a few more details I may be able to help you decide because your original post is a bit vague. There may in fact be a "right" perspective to pick. Sorry - this was an afterthought.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'family sagas' often are divided into sections called 'books'... 'book one' dealing with the older generation, 'book two' dealing with the later one and so on... that's probably the best way to handle your stories, since jumping back and forth in time will be confusing to the reader and not present the historical perspective in an easy-to-follow manner...

    having read too many such novels to count, that's my two cents, anyway...
     

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