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Moving the plot from one era to another.

Hi all. I'm wondering how I can move a story-line from today to the sixties? The idea is to see the character as a child and then as an adult, or vice versa. I want to do this, back and forth, throughout the story, My problem is how do I move the story-line smoothly from one era to another? I don't want it to appear there are gaps in the story telling. Maybe this is too ambitious for me, I don't know, but any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

Asked by: ELSIE BYRON

  1. Daniel Shooter on February 24, 2018

    Hi Elsie,

    I am trying to do this at the moment myself, and my favourite way of doing it is putting the character in a situation that reminds them of their past. I think this happens to all of us: a smell, sound, image, situation jolts us into a past life. I have my main character going into a church, which he hasn’t done for ages, and the smells that immediately confront him remind him of his youth - and then I can, hopefully, seemlessly carry on in that past world.
    For me personally it’s often food that does this, e.g over cooked veg reminds me of Grandma’s mushy carrots and cabbage etc
    In terms of other books that are good at this - Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and just because I’ve read them recently the Human Stain And American Pastoral by Philip Roth.

  2. ELSIE BYRON on January 18, 2018

    Hi Stuart thank you for your words of encouragement they are very much needed and also appreciated. I think we all need this at some time, some more than others. I will be reading the novels that the others have advised me to it makes sense. But I have decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. I have my story, it's face, body and feet, so I know my characters. I can only try. Thank you again.

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  3. Stuart Merrett on January 17, 2018

    Hi Elsie,

    I wouldn’t take all that advice from Capt Encouragement Mr Adrian there!

    This is your story, and most likely your passion, so write it however you want to.

    Luckily there is hope as a few other members have given you some great advice and even better, titles of other books written in the same style.

    I would definitely have a read of these. Maybe contact your local library, I'm sure they could help you find them. Have a notebook on hand too and break down the moments the authors jump between the time lines. Make notes on how, when and how frequently they time jump. Not to say there are set rules to this, there are not (unless you’re working with time travel then there are lots of blurry rules to navigate through - that’s science for you!) but it would just be nice from your perspective to see how that particular author has constructed their story. It will I’m sure inspire yours and who knows you might even work out a better way to transition.

    It’s always great practice to read other well-practiced, established authors of similar stories because, well they’re obviously doing something right, and once upon a time (no pun intended) they would have been in the same position you’re in now.

    Wow if we all took the attitude to leave it to the pros how could we ever strive to become one ourselves!

    Sorry I haven’t given you any advice on how to transition. I just wanted to encourage!

    Enjoy your writing.

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  4. ELSIE BYRON on January 12, 2018

    Thank you all for your helpful advice. I will definitely take it on board and see if I can find the novels you have informed me about. Thank you again.

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  5. Andrew Newall on January 12, 2018

    Subtle changes could work. One paragraph could end with the child character looking through a children's book. The next paragraph could have the adult reading the same book on a kindle, remembering how she loved it. Possibly not even any need to mention time with that one. That kind of idea.

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