1. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    Setting the Stage

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by O'ree Williams, Nov 26, 2016.

    Greetings all,
    I am curious on thoughts about the use of beginning stories with scenes that occur well into the tale, and then going back to build up to said scene before moving forward. (Does my question make sense?)...
    Moreover, I guess I am seeking guidance on how to do this tastefully.

    Thanks for the input
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    You might want to look up "in medias res".
     
  3. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    ;)
     
  4. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    Thanks Izzybot. I truly was drawing a blank on the name of the technique.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I thought that "in media res" just meant that you start in the middle of active events, without preamble. But it doesn't require then returning to present the preamble.

    However, that's dandy, because I'm opposed to returning to present the preamble. I've never had any tolerance for stories that present a scene and then go backwards for a long time. I spend the entire time reading at high speed to get the earlier events "over with" so that I can rejoin what I think of as the story's "present". It's like chasing a train. It will make me hate a book by authors that I otherwise like. (For example, I like Laurie King's Mary Russell series, but barely manage to force myself to finish a book that behaved this way--I only finished it because I wanted to be up to date with what was happening with the characters.)
     
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  6. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I googled it before posting to make sure I was spelling it right (oh Latin), and noticed that flashbacks were mentioned as a way of getting the reader back up to speed, among other ways. Honestly it's not my cup of tea either - I'd prefer no rewinding or chunky exposition, which does also count as in medias res since it's just starting "in the middle of things" - but I thought doing some research about ways in medias res has been used in well-known works might be useful to the OP.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm OK with flashbacks--that is, I don't LIKE them, but I can tolerate them. It's starting in a flash forward that I object to.

    For me, when I'm reading a book, that book has a "story present". In a linear story with no flashbacks or flash forwards, we're always in story present. When you add flash backs and flash forwards, you're briefly in story past and story future. I can deal with that, as long as it's briefly. When I'm not in story present, I as a reader feel a tension of waiting to "get back" to story present.

    The first scene of a story is always story present to me. So a story that essentially starts with a flash forward and then jumps back to an earlier time and stays there for chapter after chapter, I'm constantly feeling that tension of wanting to "get back". The author presumably regards that earlier time as story present (or they just don't "feel" story present the way I do), but I don't.

    One exception for me is "story within a story" framing. I don't actually like this, but I can tolerate it.
     
  8. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I see what you're saying. I guess I'd just think of starting at a midpoint and then going back a ways and eventually catching up as just an extended flashback, rather than a flashforward. It's the same to me and the frustration of wanting to get back to the 'present' is there either way. It's useful to make a distinction, though.
     
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    There is always the classic frame story structure, the story within a story, that could be used to cover what the OP asked. But it might require way of concluding (finishing the frame story structure) that isn't satisfactory to the writer/story to be told.
     
  10. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    Write it linearly and then put a snapshot of the scene you want inserted at the beginning; then rewrite a little to make the new timeline make sense.
     
  11. O'ree Williams

    O'ree Williams Member

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    So Siena, what I am thinking of doing is using a brief snapshot that really doesn't give much of "what's currently going on" at that particular time (probably would be considered In Medias Res), but then writing linearly bringing the story up to that point. Does that make sense?
     

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