1. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Using screenplay method to establish settings in novels?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by 123456789, Oct 7, 2017.

    Can anyone think of any novels that start chapters/sections by denoting the time and place before even getting to the characters? Like in a screenplay.

    Example: "October 8th, 1945, New York City

    Story then proceeds exactly how you'd find in most novels. "

    I can't remember if I have seen this or not, if it's considered taboo or fairly normal.
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, Lord yes, I've seen that a lot, actually.

    Nothing inherently wrong with it, EXCEPT many people either won't read the title at all, or the date and even the location doesn't actually register. When the heading changes for the next chapter, they'll either need to backtrack to see how much time has elapsed, or they'll barrel on until they realise they've missed something, and THEN go back to check.

    That kind of heading doesn't hurt, but I don't think it replaces the need to orient the reader within the text as well.
     
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  3. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I think that is really common, but I can't name a singles book which uses it!
     
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  4. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    My thoughts exactly.
     
  5. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've used it in the crime novel I'm revising now. As @jannert says, it doesn't absolve you from having to orient the reader in your setting, but it does give the reader a headstart. On the flip side, it puts a somewhat greater burden on you to get the setting right.

    The editor who reviewed my novel (which is set in NYC in 2013) did take issue with my inclusion of the year in my dates, since four years is not a long time to pass between the events of the story and my time of telling it. I explained to her that some of the locales of the story have changed significantly since 2013, and my portrayal of them might not ring true if I didn't date stamp them. She agreed wholeheartedly that I should leave them in.

    Date stamping to 1945 wouldn't even give me a second thought.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
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  6. Sir Robin

    Sir Robin Member

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    I tried to use dates in a WIP I ended up abandoning. I'm pretty sure I've seen that concept in books somewhere but for the life of me, I can't remember which book (s).
     
  7. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Last one I read was Christina Baker Kline's The Orphan Train.
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    pretty much all the dale brown books do that
     
  9. Sclavus

    Sclavus Active Member

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    The Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry does it, to good effect. I agree the dates and times don't necessarily register, but the locations tend to. Since the series bounces between the protagonist and antagonist POV, it helps because they're usually in two different places and might be moving across the world.
     
  10. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    Not taboo at all !
     
  11. Poetical Gore

    Poetical Gore Member

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    Hmmm.....I would never do it. If I am in a past year, I will drop hints and even use the calendar of that year to match up the right days. I mean, shit, 1945 was the end of WW2, if you can't think of making it blatantly obvious it is 1945 without spelling it out in date format then I say why is it in 1945? Meaning, it should be self evident---a year like that of all years.

    "The nuclear dust hasn't settled over Hiroshima yet, but damnit, I needed that Pop-Tart before riding all the way to the top of the Empire state building."
     
  12. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Since Pop-Tarts didn't exist until the mid '60s, I think that would merit an explanation if not a date stamp.
     
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  13. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    I started writing my first draft as a movie script so I can get the story laid out faster. Then I convert it into the appropriate narrative form.
     

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