Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) March 9, 2012 - 11:23pm

For the six of you who read my workshop story, it's painfully obvious I need to develop the female character the main protagonist was is love with.  Problem is, there's no way for me develop this character except through flashback or having my lead reminice about her.  I have some very specific situations that will easily flesh out who she was and why he loved her,  but the only way I can think to do this is a hamhanded flashback.  Basically, it would look like this:

Main character is at a bar, observing the scene and waiting for a "certain someone" to arrive.  The narration is in first person.  He's standing in the corner looking out onto the crowd. He sees something that triggers a memory of her.  Starts to think back.

-----

The thing he's reminiscing about starts to happen here.  It's in third person.  Brief scene to showcase a facet of the relationship.

------

Back to first person.  Something has happened while he was reminiscing.

My fear is that if the character tells us in first person about these scenes, it's telling, not showing.  The other side of this is, are flashbacks just something to be avoided and if so, how does one develop an external character when something is written in the first person and the lead cannot interact directly with the character needing development. 

What say you, good night owls of Lit Reactor?

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters March 10, 2012 - 8:32am

You could have them talk about a past event.  Just an idea - possibly not a good one.  How did you two meet?  Oh, it was in whenever.  I thought she was awesome.  ANd I thought he was the bees knees.  We giggle a lot.

If you do a flashback, I like them best when they are brief rememberances.  Because most people don't sit in a bar and remember in great detail a past event in their life.  I do - but I'mnot sure that most people do.

It reminded me of the way her hair looked the night we met, when she told me I was silly and we giggled a lot.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 8:40am

Ya know....since the narrator is a ghost it reminds me of something. I did a Beyond Thunderdome against Renfield (it's still a rough) that we never finished, but it's all there. The flash backs and everything. The difference is my entire narrative is a flash back...I don't think it is perfect or polished, but everyone seemed to like it. Maybe you can get some ideas out of it? I think the prompt was "Memoir from the grave"

*this was before I started using different similes and showing instead of telling, but the basic structure should be there.*

 

Link

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts March 10, 2012 - 9:08am

Exposition. Handling within the confines of the story is pretty much always better than stopping the story, explaining something that may or may not really have that much of an impact on the story told, then starting that story back up where you left it. You can't cover it in dialogue or make a quick passing observation or show how the relationships exist at the precise moment and have it be enough? Maybe there is a deeper chink in the mechanics of your story. I'd say don't do flashback, only in that they kinda suck and will kill the pace.

I don't think I've read your story though, but I'll try to, so I don't know exactly what to suggest.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 10, 2012 - 9:14am

I haven't read your story -- I will when I get home so I can see specific examples of what you're lacking -- but I'd say Renfield has it on point. Have you read Memoirs of a Geisha? It's a wonderful novel, but the flashbacks are so heavy that it's almost impossible to follow. If you want to make a point about a character, avoid using a flashback as your means. I'd say start with a prologue and add onto your exposition as you go -- that's why exposition exists. You get a chance to basically inform the reader of what they can expect.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 9:20am

I thought the flashbacks were buried enough to make it work in MOG. As though they were the narrative.  Just me though. You and Ren are right you don't want to draw someone out of the story. 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts March 10, 2012 - 9:22am

Actually, I think the only thing recently I remember kinda liking the flashbacks was in The Hunger Games. Still invasive, but worked for the story.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 9:27am

I think they worked in there only because they were brief and it seemed to fit the style. Try reading Cold Mountain if you want to read flashbacks that drag everything to a halt. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 10, 2012 - 10:03am

Oh, God... Cold Mountain. My mom has pushed that novel on me for about seven years now and I can't stand it. I refuse to open it at this point; I keep it tucked against my mattress as though I'm reading it so she'll quit nagging me about it.

As for MOG, I thought they were well-buried at first, but then on my fourth or fifth rereading (I don't have a library card, so I have to cycle my books out if I'm broke; MOG was a favorite of mine in middle school) I got fed up with it. They follow a linear narrative, but they tend to take you out the story with a jolt if you realize you were in an okiya and are suddenly reading about her childhood. Unless you're under the spell of the novel (which, of course, is not difficult in this particular one) flashbacks can be particularly startling.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 10:07am

Oh, God... Cold Mountain. "
 

I thought he did a fantastic job writing, just the detail and flashbacks crushed me. I think a retelling of the Odyssey (as it was) worked, it was just too much at times.

 

Unless you're under the spell of the novel (which, of course, is not difficult in this particular one) flashbacks can be particularly startling."

Maybe that's why they work for me. He writes it in such a way that he immerses you in the main and you don't seem to notice. Like having a deep conversation with a friend. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 10, 2012 - 10:14am

I tried. I gave it a gallant effort and a huge chunk of time, but I was never able to read it. Then again, the same goes for The Sun Also Rises and I just finished reading it. Same for Franny and Zooey. It may have been because of my busy schedule up til now, so I'll give it another crack tonight. No promises. My baby cousin is in town and I love babies, so I can't promise I'll even start it. But... I will. Soon.

The flashbacks were really what killed me. I want to be able to immerse myself in the story, and for some reason, Cold Mountain wasn't one that made it easy for me.

Memoirs of a Geisha, though... I could read that novel for hours when I was younger. I picked it up again last night and that's when I noticed the flashbacks -- I had never really noticed them before. Maybe it's because I was on Benadryl and everything seems super slow when you're stoned on antihistamines.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 10:23am

Memoirs of a Geisha,"

 

The more I learn about writing the more I notice stuff....maybe that is it? If you're not feeling Cold Mountain, I wouldn't push yourself to finish. It's good but basically like the movie (which I kind of liked better). Gods and Generals was good if you're looking for Civil War era books....in the movie my Mom and Dad were extras. They are (were) reenactors. Mom in her gown at Stonewall's funeral and Dad was cheering before a battle. I did it with him a few times it's a lot of fun. 

 

I am rambling now. 

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters March 10, 2012 - 10:28am

I'm reading Memoirs of a Geisha again in my spare time.  I love it.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 1:09pm

I've enjoyed it. You recommended it. Good call. 

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. March 10, 2012 - 1:13pm

Matt, you smell good like Old Spice and broken dreams.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 2:43pm

Matt, you smell good like Old Spice and broken dreams." <--------I approve sir.

 

That sounds pretty friggin awesome. Almost as though I am some gritty, noir character from the 40's. Someone should do a prompt. 

 

 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 10, 2012 - 3:49pm

I haven't been able to finish the movie, either, but that's just because I literally can't watch a movie without falling asleep -- I didn't watch Fight Club until I'd basically memorized the book and it took me three tries to get through it.
The part about your parents is awesome as fuck, Matt. I wish I had cool stories like that about my parents, but my stories generally focus on their criminality. They're great people and I consider them close friends, but they're not very interesting once you get past the fact that they're both, well, criminals.

Memoirs was a favorite of mine for years. It's such a great novel; rich and deep and my first venture into fictional accounts of life. (I was never big on historical fiction, sue me.) It really opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the craft of writing.

The more I learn about writing the more I notice stuff....maybe that is it?

 

Hopefully that's it. I'd like to pretend I don't have a Benadryl addiction.

I am rambling now.

 

Your post sounds like any post I've ever written. I hope I don't ramble in the obnoxious way; your post certaily wasn't.

And I'm rambling now.

 

(PROMPT: Matt is a '40s noir character -- describe the way he smells.)

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 4:28pm

I ignored all  of that when I saw. 

(PROMPT: Matt is a '40s noir character -- describe the way he smells.)"

 

So awesome. I think Danny got the smell down. Now I think I just need a plot and "Mattitude"

 

The part about your parents is awesome as fuck, Matt. I wish I had cool stories like that about my parents, but my stories generally focus on their criminality."
 

My parents are quietly unconventional. I went with my Dad to New Market and reenacted when I had just gotten out the Navy. A few of my ancestors actually fought at that battle...then, later I escorted a girl I met in the sutlers to the ball dance. All around fun time. 

I don't think you ramble, if I did, I wouldn't bother to post replies. 

It really opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the craft of writing."

Mine as well...among other things and people who are helping me along the way. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 10, 2012 - 5:10pm

I think I could start my own prompt-thread based on you. Examples:
PROMPT -- Come up with a definition of "Mattitude."
PROMPT -- Neglect to define "Mattitude," but write a 1,000 word essay describing why his scent is Mattitude.

I'm on a roll.

My family makes for great material, but I think I'll burn in hell for using them so often as inspiration. They're quite the magnificent bunch. I have an uncle who's almost fifty and a stand-up comedian that uses us for jokes -- he's black and said he didn't have a problem fitting in because of that, but because we're such goddamn rednecks (he said when they married, his wife's favorite food was "and gravy.") I feel good knowing I'm in such esteemed company when I use them as material.

Memoirs was a powerful experience for me because I read it in sixth-grade. My sister was heavy on a Gossip Girl phase and I was avoiding that like the plague; I came upon Memoirs in my mom's bookshelf and read it cover-to-cover three times. I had never really experienced books like that. (She bribed me with $50 to start reading adult novels that year; I haven't looked back since. YA is a good jumping off point, but it can get infuriating.)

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 7:06pm

I think I could start my own prompt-thread based on you. "

I love it. Mostly because it is my favorite subject. Me. LOL Somenes got to write these prompts though! 

why his scent is Mattitude"

I think this could be sponsered by Calvin Klein. 

I feel good knowing I'm in such esteemed company when I use them as material."

It ain't nothing but gravy. That is pretty freaking awesome. Makes my fam look boring. 

 I came upon Memoirs in my mom's bookshelf and read it cover-to-cover three times."

I think you made a good choice there. There are a couple more out there like it but I can't think of them right now....I'll have to ponder it and get back to ya! Sounds like you're the type to lose yourself in books so I'll have to come up with some good ones. We have seriously ruined this thread. Haha

 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 10, 2012 - 7:28pm

We've completely turned it into a Matt-and-Courtney thread. At least we have some nice literary discussion going, even if it is the last part of our conversations!

PROMPT: What exactly does a "Matt Attack" sound like?
PROMPT: Why are we all answering above prompt as "like a rottweiler attacking a very plump pug"?

My family is boring most of the time, but we get together a lot on weekends. Makes for great stories when the adults get plastered.

As soon as you think of some, give me the titles! I have a two-day-a-week job and graduated from high school in December. Nothing stops me from reading! I can waste hours in my bed reading without realizing it. I got to work on Jude the Obscure and I'm rereading A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man in my car whenever I'm waiting somewhere... and I started both yesterday and I'm halfway through. And I'm rereading Middlesex -- but that's mostly middle-of-the-night shit.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 10, 2012 - 7:34pm

Geez! And I thought I read a lot! Haha I love the prompts. Pick one and write one! LOL I really think you're on to something with all those books. Some of them I think I have read. I am just currently on "The Road" and writing two shorts. 

We've completely turned it into a Matt-and-Courtney thread"

 

I am not sure one thread can contain all the awesomeness. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 8:46am

I really might start a Matt Prompt Thread... and then procede to do all of them. All.

I think that's why we killed it so quickly... the awesomeness stifled everyone else's creativity. And then they died.

PROMPT: When Matt-and-Courtney's awesomeness stifles creativity, does it sound like a rottweiler attacking a plump pug?

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 9:06am

I really might start a Matt Prompt Thread... and then procede to do all of them. All."

Haha, that would be something to see. 

I think that's why we killed it so quickly... the awesomeness stifled everyone else's creativity. And then they died."

Nah, they're just reading in awe. I, however am going fishing

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 9:26am

I'm at work pretending to check people out. Laundry be damned.

Nikki Guerlain's picture
Nikki Guerlain from Portlandia is reading Necronomicon Book Three March 11, 2012 - 12:31pm

Geesh get a room already.
One with a peephole and a camera and voice command function.
I will give details on where to stream later.

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly March 11, 2012 - 12:32pm

Should I make you guys a poster?

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human March 11, 2012 - 12:41pm

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 12:52pm

Should I make you guys a poster?"

I'm big in Japan. 

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters March 11, 2012 - 12:57pm

Matt, you change your picture more than I do. 

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 12:59pm

I know. It grows the brand. Also, stop stalking me! 

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters March 11, 2012 - 12:59pm

I pay really close attention to pictures now.  Because I'm afraid I'm going to pop up in them.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 1:00pm

Yeah, I am kind of shocked one of mine hasn't showed up....or that I haven't been memed. But that just means you're one of the cool kids! 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 1:00pm

It's all about recognition. The more photos your associate with yourself, the more people think of you.

Geesh get a room already.

Only if you pay for it.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 1:03pm

Only if you pay for it."

She's high class like that. 

 

It's all about recognition. The more photos your associate with yourself, the more people think of you."

Speaking of which: when are you going to change yours! 

Edit: I didn't realize it would trigger association..maybe I should stop changing it . I just get bored with them.

 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 1:03pm

She's high class like that.

Also not jailbait. I'm proud of both of these qualities.

when are you going to change yours!

My boyfriend is a photography major in art school... he's coming over tonight to do a photoshoot. (Just photoshoot, not "photoshoot"--as I feel  both Nikki and Matt read that as really drawn out innuendo-ish word.) I'll see what he comes up with. I don't like getting photos taken. Especially if I have to be wary of imitators. There's only one Courtney.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 1:07pm

Innuendo is more Niki's bag. I tend to just imply all the time. Hahaha 

Well hurry up and post em! 

PROMPT: Courtney's awesomeness shots the camera and breaks it. 

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly March 11, 2012 - 1:08pm

or that I haven't been memed

 

YET! 

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 1:14pm

Great. I think I am going to stop changing my picture now so that you don't have any more ammunition and also so I don't look like a vain asshole. Did not realize it triggered association....

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 1:35pm

Everyone switched photos... so I associate all of you with all of you.

I will try to have those photos tonight. I will create a special Matt Prompt thread with photos of me to illustrate each one. (Probably not, but I will try to get at least one current photo of me up soon. I'm no longer a feisty red head! Back to brown for me.)

Also, you will be a meme one day. With prompts on every photo.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 1:47pm

I'm no longer a feisty red head! Back to brown for me"

Blondes and redheads are alright....but brunettes have more fun. Love em. The darker the hair the better. 

 

I will try to have those photos tonight. I will create a special Matt Prompt thread with photos of me to illustrate each one."

That would be friggin awesome. You do that and I'll make: "Adventures in Courtneyland" story haha, it'll be full of pickup trucks, drug abuse and jail time. LOL

Also, you will be a meme one day. With prompts on every photo."

 

Aww, shucks. *blushing*

 

Also, Bill, sorry we ruined your thread. 

Nikki Guerlain's picture
Nikki Guerlain from Portlandia is reading Necronomicon Book Three March 11, 2012 - 2:31pm

Did someone say something about my bag and INnuendo? And all I can say is Panda you better be glad that wasn't one of my unis.

Nikki Guerlain's picture
Nikki Guerlain from Portlandia is reading Necronomicon Book Three March 11, 2012 - 2:36pm

@bill I haven't read your story but as far as tense goes as you can see the present can be rather exciting. Have you considered fragmenting everything into present tense. You can use white space to make big leaps in time and space. I only began using white space the last 5 years or do and it was very liberating. Anyhow like I said didn't read your story but just thought I'd throw that out there.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 6:56pm

Apologies to Bill.

1.) Brunettes are far more impressive than blondes, but I'll always be a red-head at heart.

2.) No dice on the photos! Kevin and I wound up getting literally zero photos taken.

3.) I'll suggest that he make that his next final project -- "Mattitude: A Series"

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 11, 2012 - 6:57pm

Sweet! I am reviewing your story now (Solace) you write good one-liners. I might have to finish in the morning though, I am beat. 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 11, 2012 - 7:35pm

Thanks! I've needed a new review. If you want to put it aside for now, I can email you the revised version -- the beginning monologue is extremely different, but I'm taking some time to work on other stuff so I can clear my mind from it for a while, so all the help is super appreciated.

...Thread killed?

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 12, 2012 - 3:11am

Yeah, I think it is dead. I'll take a look at the revised version. 

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) March 12, 2012 - 9:54am

Thread resurrected! 

Thanks for the suggestions!  I've decided to forgo the flashbacks in favor of some good, old fashioned exposition, and thanks to the comments here, I think I've figured out a way to do so.  It requires me to change the "rules" of the world the protagonist lives in, but it's a change for the better.  So, thanks very much for the help.

As for sending the thread off topic, we're writers.  We live and die by thoughts going awry, so the highjack is not only fine, it's expected.  No apologies needed.

Thank again for the help!

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner March 12, 2012 - 11:07am

You're the man sir. Let us know how it turns out.