1. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    Across the Eras

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by MythMachine, Aug 22, 2017.

    So I'm currently engulfed in a dilemma regarding the timeline of my graphic novel. My original plan was to have the first three or four books take place in a fantasy world, then the following three or four books explore the same world thousands of years in the past in a previous era of civilization. The plots are interconnected, but I'm worried that the difference in atmosphere and setting would be too great to pull off effectively. The two eras are completely different in terms of technology, settlement, and culture, but the events in the earlier timeline are directly connected to and acutely influence the events in the later one. The main character from the later time period is sent back through time to prevent a catastrophe, but I'm wondering if the readers will accept such a huge change.

    Here are my main questions:

    Is jumping through time to tell more of the story a valid tactic, when the two eras being written about differ completely?

    If it is valid, then what sort of problems might I run into when making the transition and how might I avoid them?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    I'd see how the readers react toward the first three or four books before you worry about how they'll react to the next three or four.
     
  3. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    I don't plan my stories by waiting to see how readers react to it.
     
  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    My initial thought was that it just seems like a time travel story, which should be fine, but then I processed it and got confused. So, the story is told chronologically, starting in the past, where the mc has been sent back to 'fix' things, right? So ... what's the point of the future part? Surely things are either fixed, and there's nothing to do, or they're not, and things need to stay in the past.

    I don't think your concern is a deal breaker, for what it's worth. I'm just not seeing why it's laid out the way you're describing. It's entirely possible I just don't have enough information to understand what you're going for, though.

    Main point, I think the setting change is probably fine, especially with a shared character to tie the two together.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    Have you written book one yet?
     
  6. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    Essentially each set of books will deal with two separate central conflicts. The first conflict takes place in the world of the main characters timeline, while the second takes place in the past. As the first conflict progresses, there are various details that will come up in the story hinting at the second conflict from the past, and various connections to be made between them. The conflict in the present is mostly internal, while the conflict in the past is mostly external. The reason I want to present the "future" first is to set up the story for the "past", although technically it could likely work out with either story being told first.

    I haven't finished it, but I'm not sure why that matters. I'm not creating my books based on the reception of the readers. I'm creating them because I want to, regardless of whether they are well received. The readers are secondary to me telling the story. I personally wouldn't mind reading a book that makes such a major change in setting and cast, but I'd still like the opinions of other people on if it's a valid storytelling tactic.
     
  7. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    If you don't care what people who read your book think then you can write anything you want, any way you want. Seriously man, just go for it. I wish I was so unencumbered. :D
     
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  8. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    Haha, well, it's not that I don't care, or else I wouldn't be asking, but the readers aren't the cause for my creations, they're the result =)
     
  9. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Then I say write what you want, however you want to and people will either dig it or they won't.

    I don't necessarily create for readers, but keeping their enjoyment in mind helps me make decisions in regards to pacing, tone, characterization, etc.
     
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  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    I'm only asking because you're sweating book 7 when you haven't written book 1 yet. I'm not saying that planning ahead is a bad thing, but there is no book 7 until there's a book 1.
     
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  11. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    There's nothing wrong with a plot taking place in different times. It's far from unprecedented and I would have thought most readers would be able to understand that if a character is travelling through vast periods of time then they will end up in a radically different situation. The only problem with that is if you don't adequately portray each of the settings, the reader won't buy in to the scenario. However, that isn't a problem specific to a story involving time travel. You always have to immerse the reader in a setting, and that means depicting it correctly and using suitable dialogue. In your case you have to do it with two (or more) different settings. It's not a different skill though, and might just involve doing twice the research and planning to ensure both your future and past settings are believable.
     
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  12. Veleda

    Veleda New Member

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    I'm drafting a novel in which the narrator has "flashbacks" (not the usual type y'all are thinking ;)) that take her from her present in 2025 back as far as 900 BCE. They are little vignettes and are critical to the main plot, but each has to have its own setting, characters and mini conflict. As a writer, its challenging as all get out, but loads of fun. The hardest part for me is ensuring that the transitions are smooth enough not to jar (potential future) readers and destroy immersion, as well as quickly engage them in each nonlinear jaunt I drag them on. I can't let the reader get bored, overly confused, or feel like they have mental whiplash, and I think these historic peregrinations could easily do just that.

    So beware, study the period well, and enjoy.
     
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  13. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    This sounds fascinating. Good luck with it :)
     
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  14. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    You have a really interesting premise and a story that is worth a series of books. You should start writing your first book. Now, as the book comes together, maybe select some alpha readers to give you their impressions. I believe the issues with 'mixing genres' is when people write about a subject they are not prolific in. I've recently read a great book of historical fiction that had some of worst examples of 'romance' writing I've read. The book was very well written, but, the author (maybe at the insistence of the publisher) threw in a major romance subplot that was embarrassing.
    The only fear you should have is the fear of not trying.
     
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  15. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    In hindsight after writing this post, I guess my main issue isn't with the different settings, but rather the transition from one to the next and making it believable. Essentially, I'm debating whether the time travel should be done with technology or a sort of "magic". I realize though that this is just something I'll have to decide on my own, but sometimes whenever I see magic used to fuel a major event, it feels cheap or contrived. Again, as you have stated, it's just a matter of immersing the character into the story and making the event feel like it belongs. Thanks for the tips mashers =)

    I agree. Making the transition from one time to another is likely going to be the most important part in making the time jump work in the story. I think throughout the course of the story, I'm going to make subtle references and provide clues to the past events, so that readers can have some idea that there is a history connecting the two settings, so that the jump doesn't seem too out of place or sudden. Thank you for the feedback!

    I'm glad you find the premise interesting! You have good points about authors mixing genres; I've seen quite a few distasteful romances thrown into stories as well, and its even worse if they try to become the central conflict of the story and wash everything else out. Now, I do plan to have some romantic themes in the story, but I don't intend for them to have too much of an inherent impact on it. In fact, the romantic progression will be so natural and gradual, that it's impact will be pretty low. The characters involved won't even notice it until a couple of books in, so I don't think that will be an issue.

    I'll definitely take that into account when I'm progressing with the books, and make sure that I'm putting in the effort to not muddle the story with bad design. My question is, what is the most effective way to find alpha readers here in the forums? I don't really have anyone in my life that reads a lot of fantasy or graphic novels, so I'll very likely have to explore my options online.
     
  16. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Honestly, I don’t think it matters. Time travel is massively sketchy whether you make it science- or magic-based. Issues of determinism, paradoxes etc will always come up, and a scientific explanation is, at this point, no more or less believable than a magical one. The good news is that time travel has become enough of a trope in fiction that a lot of readers will just accept it, even if in the back of their mind they know it isn’t possible, or even plausible. So I would suggest that you choose the method that most closely fits the style of your story. If it’s sci-fi, go with tech. If it’s fantasy, go with magic. If it’s a bit of both, maybe choose ancient tech as this tends to feel magical and mysterious (like in Stargate).
     
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