1. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Writing flashbacks

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by yagr, Jan 16, 2012.

    I'm writing the first chapter of what I am hoping to become two novels. The plot is fleshed out significantly and there are chapter synopsis's throughout but I've finally set down to do some of the difficult work. The first chapter begins with the MC as a six year old girl and a doctor making a housecall to tend to her. The issue at hand for Mary (the young girl) is that her mother died in this bed some three years ago and she is wondering if she too is going to die.

    I would like to flashback in the middle of the chapter while the doctor and her father talk and review Mary's memories of her mothers death. It was a significant event in her life, of course, and colors much of what comes after both directly and indirectly. I have considered writing of her mother's death in a first chapter and then jumping ahead three years in the second but the short response is that for many reasons, it just doesn't work.

    Can anyone suggest a method to make a smooth transition to a the past and flash forward again to the present?
     
  2. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I'd recommend reading best-selling books that have done this effectively. I can't think of any at the moment except for Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, which I'm currently (re)reading. It's chick lit, if you can stomach that, but excellently written, best-seller chick lit, and the main character often remembers things from her past and the transitions are barely noticeable.

    I'd start the transition simply -- something like, "The bed had given her an awful feeling ever since her mother had died in it. This happened on a windy night in September..." or, "Three years ago, on a chilly night in April, a horrible thing had happened in this bed. The girl had been sitting by the floor playing with blocks, keeping her mother company. ..." Then you could come back with something like, "The images of her mother's death clouded her vision as the doctor asked her if she had been coughing a lot lately." or, "So it should be understandable that the girl, lying in the same bed and sickly pale, had thoughts of her impending death."
     
  3. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Thanks joanna....I'll check out Giffin, and I should be able to stomach it as the book I'm working on might be classified as chick lit itself :)
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Most of the time a flashback in the first chapter isn't a good idea. It sounds like you flashback would work but I'd keep it short, maybe even a few lines and then expound on it more later when the story is farther along.
     
  5. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Perhaps the mother's death could be detailed in a prologue?
     
  6. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    AmyHolt and Protar: I really appreciate the feedback and you've certainly instilled more trepidation on top of what already existed; I am hesitant to do this but just prior to reading your responses I was working on it and I think it may work less poorly than I originally feared. I am not ignoring your advice, but I think, at this point in my writing, I may need to do it this way and then submit it to the forum for critique so that people can give me more specific ways of changing it.

    Hmm, that was clear as mud...

    I guess what I'm saying is this: I don't know how to make the flashback shorter, nor can I figure out how to put it in a prologue. Those may be and probably are very good idea's though. What I'm thinking is, that if I muddle through this first chapter and make it the best I can - even with these expected problems, then you folks will have a better idea of what I'm working with and more details to better direct me as to HOW I can shorten it or HOW I can introduce this int a prologue. Hmmm, again. Perhaps make the whole first chapter the prologue? I don't know...my skills are more a work in process than this chapter I'm afraid. Regardless, thank you both for taking the time to respond.
     
  7. Rosa
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    Rosa Member

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    A short statement about the girl's fear of the bed in the first chapter will raise a question for the reader. The flashback can come later providing the answer.
     

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