1. Nighthunter

    Nighthunter Member

    Dec 6, 2011
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    Small Backstory: Proolgue, dream / flashback or other method?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Nighthunter, Jan 11, 2013.

    Edit: Prologue in title, clearly :<

    Hello there people!

    I just wanted to get a piece of some other mind that is not my own on this subject.
    Now what I want to do is add a bit of story that happened about 20 years before the actual setting in my book, but heavily influenced and shaped the characters - also set from the perspective of the MC, and I am a bit unsure on how to do it.

    This has been done a lot I am aware, movies do it all the time - the first Pirates of the Caribbean comes to mind (as it was on the TV a short while ago.) but I am not quite sure how to present it.

    I was never a fan on prologues, as I think that a lot of the times its used wrongly and might as well have been a chapter, but that is not saying it cannot be done right. I am currently leaning at it coming as a flashback or a dream, most likely dream, at the start of the chapter - meaning the readers wont know its a dream until the MC wakes up.

    The dream somehow feels very lazy too me however.
    There is also the possibility of removing the back story and vowing it into the story itself, it was my first plan but it would also result in losing the scene i have pictured before as a whole and the interaction and story would be broken down to bare memories and history.

    Does anyone else feel like sharing some knowledge, if you have any tips or have been in the same situation, how did you solve it? :)
  2. jenna_benna

    jenna_benna Member

    Jan 6, 2013
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    Palm Springs, CA
    I'm not a big fan of the "and then he woke up!" style. I think you understand yourself that it's a weak way to present the flashback.

    One way to do it would be to end a chapter with the main character saying something that alludes to the past events, and then the next chapter can be the telling of that past. Go from one visual in one chapter to another visual in the next, but tie them in some how, sort of like how movies do it. Like a character looks at his hands and stares, and then in the next chapter he is looking at his hands but the scene is different and obviously from a different time period. A film never just comes out and says "hey, here's a flashback," it just sort of shows one thing, blurs a little, and goes right into it, using visual clues to let the viewer know that the time period is different.

    That's one way to do it, at least.
  3. live2write

    live2write Senior Member

    Feb 7, 2012
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    Is it an unwritten rule that when writing dream sequences to format it in italics. The books I am reading have dream sequences that start the novel or that is directly right in the middle and they are often separated by chapters and the text in the chapters are italicized, hinting the reader that it is another scene not directly related to the last chapter.

    I agree with Jenna Benna. I am not a fan of the AHHHH HE WOKE UP FROM THE DREAM! (Sorry for the caps, got excited there). Keeping it up in the air to interpretation gives it away that it was a dream.
  4. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Scatter puzzle pieces throughout the story. Let the reader feel like a treasure hunter and assemble those puzzle pieces. Don't try to represent the entire past event, just enough key elements so the reader gets the essence of the ripples that emanated from that event. Leave some mystery to it. Maybe that will become a story in its own right someday.

    Keep your focus on the story you are telling.

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