1. WriteOrRong

    WriteOrRong New Member

    Nov 19, 2016
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    Multiple Events Happening at the Same Time

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by WriteOrRong, Nov 29, 2016.

    Not sure how to explain it, but if you have read "Brave New World" you will know what I'm talking about and I'm sure there are many others that use this technique as well.

    Basically you have 3 or so events happening at once, and you bounce back and forth between them.

    So you give 3-4 paragraphs on one event, put a space, give 3-4 paragraphs on the second, then the third, then back to the first etc.

    In Brave New World in a bunch of cases Huxley actually uses 1 sentence at a time...

    So character 1 in one location says something, then another character in another place says something to someone else, it actually gets quite confusing.

    Wondering what you think of this method of writing?
    In films scenes are cut like this frequently, but I rarely see it in writing nowadays.
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  2. S~A~W

    S~A~W Banned

    Nov 27, 2016
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    I got a headache just reading the description.
  3. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

    Jun 21, 2016
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    I remember that. Really threw me off when I read that book. This conundrum is probably one of the hardest elements of writing that I've grappled with. I still don't know how to do it well because most writers simply write around it by constructing their story in such a way that it isn't necessary, so I rarely see examples of it in books. Like you said, these types of scenes are everywhere in film, and as someone whose writing is sometimes more influenced by film than books, it really bugs me that these types of scenes are so hard to do in novel form.

    If you have separate events that never directly intertwine, then there is really no reason to do what Huxley did in "Brave New World." In other words, if two scenes happen at the same time, but are happening at completely different locations and aren't directly affecting each other, then you should avoid switching perspectives all over the place. However, if something happening one place is crucial to something happening in another, and going back and explaining it in another chapter takes too long and forces you to spend too much time with a single point of the story, then I suppose doing those quick paragraphs can be nice. Still don't know how to do them well, though... but I believe Stephen King did something similar in some chapters of The Shining and I didn't mind that too much. Been a while since I read that, though.
  4. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

    Nov 20, 2016
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    South Florida
    It's easy to pull of in film since you can use visual elements to immediately orient the audience. In prose you have to construct the reference points each change, or work it into how you went about presenting it in some other way.

    In my view, anything's worth trying. If you pull it off, more power to you. If you don't, the effort will probably garner something else in the way of skill, if not any more than increasing your typing speed.

  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    You can if you use time/space gaps (***) to sort it all out. But it can get confusing.
    I dodge this narrowly by having a tag for each character, but that doesn't mean
    that it will work for your situation. Perhaps a chapter turn based format would
    be best. Though it is ultimately up to you on how you want to go about things.
  6. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

    May 20, 2015
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    Manchester, UK
    It depends how your perspective is structured.

    It would be almost impossible to pull off in a first person work, for example, but in a third-omniscient work, it's much easier.

    If you've got a third-limited perspective with multiple POVs, then you'll have to bounce between characters' heads - which will get very confusing unless you separate them into different chapters.
  7. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 23, 2013
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    As long as there's something to show when one POV is flipping for another, it shouldn't be a problem.


    I did this in my Doctor Who story too. My Urban Fantasy WIP only has one narrator, so it doesn't happen in my new story, but I wrote 5 narrators in Gemini, and there were a couple of times where a single chapter switched quickly between two narrators.

    However, there were also times where one chapter started chronologically (don't even get me started on time travel ;) ) at a point somewhere in the middle of the previous chapter. Just because two events are happening at the same time doesn't mean that they have to be read at the same time too.


    For that matter, you're doing that already. The only way for a reader to truly experience two events happening at the same time would be for the words to be superimposed over each other. Even if you just do 1-sentence switches, you're still starting with one of the sentences that's happening, reading it to the end of both sentences happening, then flashing back to the beginning to read the other sentence that's happening somewhere else.

    Since you're doing it anyway, you might as well do it with more than a few paragraphs at a time if you can't get the shorter switches to work.
  8. Alphonse Capone

    Alphonse Capone Active Member

    Jun 30, 2016
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    I hated this about Brave New World , really off putting.

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