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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working on a story about a woman who does not learn from her mistakes, repeating the same one many times, and how her thick headed choices impacts everyone around her. I am trying to decide how I want to lay out the timeline.

I am starting the story in current time, then I flash back to incident #1. From there, I could continue to incident #2 and write all the way through to where I left off in current time, or I could write incident #1, then a current time scene which leads to another flashback, and switch back and forth.

I am leaning toward flashbacks interspersed with current time, but I would love to get your opinions.

As a reader, which would you rather read?

Thanks!

 

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I like the back and forth approach, especially if you can make something in the present connect up with the flashback at the moment you choose to show it in the story.  Have you seen the TV show Once Upon A Time?  It has the same idea.  It takes place in the present, but you get the backstory of different characters.  As the show progresses, you get a better picture of why the characters do what they do in the present based on what happened in their past.  It's actually something that works well.  So I vote for present, flashback, present, flashback, etc scenario.

But go where the story leads.  If you find it going the other way, go with the flow.  :D

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ruth Ann Nordin said:
I like the back and forth approach, especially if you can make something in the present connect up with the flashback at the moment you choose to show it in the story.
That's exactly what I had in mind. Have never seen Once Upon a Time, but it sounds like it is set up the way I want my story.
Thanks for your feedback.
 

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I have published three titles and I am working on my fourth.  My first book and current WIP are built on memory flashbacks.  I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  One symptom of PTSD are extremely vivid flashbacks.  It's a condition that can affect people exposed to a life threatening traumatic event.  It's over and beyond a "normal" routine stress: combat zones, air plane crash, victims of kidnapping, assaults, witnessing a death or receiving a terminal diagnosis.  Think about the movie, "Deer Hunter"  The characters were ripped from the pages of the current time and interjected in the past. ... for me a PTSD flashback feels almost like a seizure.  The present fades to black for a period of time.  My experience with PTSD helped me write along the line I gather your trying to achieve?

So, when I attempted to write this into my first book and current book I follow what I experience.  Imagine: You are outside going about your routine business.  You have a unique experience from your past that haunts you.  The past is triggered by stimuli: smells, sounds, dates, music etc.  A trigger moment seizes you from today, and for what seems like an hour of your past...translates into three seconds of your present time.  I took time to blend my settings...play with the light and weather. .  Fade to black like a television cut away.  Your reader follows you into the past.  Take them by the hand and lead them to that place.  Than when its time to turn the lights back on, take them by the hand again...your back in the present.  The present is ongoing.  and this is what a flashback to me feels like.  For others that suffer from it they may have other symptoms, that I don't or experience the flashbacks like I do. One moment I am pumping gas on a cold winter day, and I smell the frost in the air, and *blink* reality is gone.  The past is happening in front of me again.  Writing has helped me personally.  Also think of Dolphins swimming along a boat.  The boat is your main story line.  The dolphins are tailing you out of sight, but periodically explode into your reality above water and than, *blink*...they are back under water out of site but still swimming after you, never far away... I hope that helps,
 

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As a reader (and as a moviegoer) I have a fondness for flashbacks.  Switching back and forth is fun for me as a reader - just because I don't get to read that way very often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Christian Price said:
I have published three titles and I am working on my fourth. My first book and current WIP are built on memory flashbacks. I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One symptom of PTSD are extremely vivid flashbacks. It's a condition that can affect people exposed to a life threatening traumatic event. It's over and beyond a "normal" routine stress: combat zones, air plane crash, victims of kidnapping, assaults, witnessing a death or receiving a terminal diagnosis. Think about the movie, "Deer Hunter" The characters were ripped from the pages of the current time and interjected in the past. ... for me a PTSD flashback feels almost like a seizure. The present fades to black for a period of time. My experience with PTSD helped me write along the line I gather your trying to achieve?

So, when I attempted to write this into my first book and current book I follow what I experience. Imagine: You are outside going about your routine business. You have a unique experience from your past that haunts you. The past is triggered by stimuli: smells, sounds, dates, music etc. A trigger moment seizes you from today, and for what seems like an hour of your past...translates into three seconds of your present time. I took time to blend my settings...play with the light and weather. . Fade to black like a television cut away. Your reader follows you into the past. Take them by the hand and lead them to that place. Than when its time to turn the lights back on, take them by the hand again...your back in the present. The present is ongoing. and this is what a flashback to me feels like. For others that suffer from it they may have other symptoms, that I don't or experience the flashbacks like I do. One moment I am pumping gas on a cold winter day, and I smell the frost in the air, and *blink* reality is gone. The past is happening in front of me again. Writing has helped me personally. Also think of Dolphins swimming along a boat. The boat is your main story line. The dolphins are tailing you out of sight, but periodically explode into your reality above water and than, *blink*...they are back under water out of site but still swimming after you, never far away... I hope that helps,
Christian, so sorry to hear about your PTSD. A good friend of mine also suffers from it and he finds writing very therapeutic, as well. He does not write to publish. He said keeping a journal helps to keep him in the here and now.

I appreciate your comments. That is very much what I envisioned for my story-to have a place, or smell, or comment made by someone trigger a memory of past incidents, then something about the memory bring the story back to current time. Thank you!

Edmjill, thank you, also. This will be a challenge. I have never tried writing in this style before. I have read a couple books done this way, and have seen several movies do this, and I really liked that they kept me close to the action, as you mentioned.

I have also read a few books that opened in current time, then went back to tell the entire back story before coming back to current time. I cannot recall which book it was, but I do remember once feeling like I was being jerked out of the story when it came back to current time. I had become so caught up in the past story that I had forgotten it was a flashback, and when it came back around, I got lost for a moment. I do not want to do that! :)
 
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