The sound of thunder was not the harbinger of rain. The smell of fire was not that of cooking or for warmth. The screams were not of delight. No. The flash of lightening had descended from clear blue sky. The smell of fire was that of thatched roofs ablaze. The sound of screams came from villagers being slaughtered by the fury of the Danes.
Pendaran wanted to cry out to his father, plead with him not to go out. Instead he stood by and watched events unfold, as they had, as they would again and again...
He had considered his father a giant among men, stronger then the mightiest of foe, one who would always be there to protect him. Pendaran watched as his only living parent enter the fray, against a red-bearded man that bore no weapon or armor. Even at that tender age, Pendaran understood that when his father fell before the Berserker, he never would arise again... ---------------------------------------------- This is a snippet from the first draft of the WIP, Man Without Dreams. This occurs in the 9th century, and now I do not know how to incorporate it, even in flashback. Back then I sure liked those 'to be' verbs...
Hmm, melodramatic indeed! That's not necessarily a bad thing, though - I used to write loads of gung-ho blood 'n thunder military SF and people used to love it. It's all about who you're writing for (and whether or not YOU like it).
Anyway... I have a few comments. Hopefully some of them will be useful.
In the first paragraph, I think that "No." seems both redundant and a little absurd. The repeated emphasis on "not" is more than sufficient. Otherwise the flow of the paragraph is quite nice, although perhaps without the "No" as a counterpoint (I think I see why it was there, now) you might want to work something else in. Oh, and the flash of lightning - what's with that? It reads to me like magic - but is this historical or fantastical? Not a criticism, just a little confusion - the downside to these snippets, I suppose.
Oh, it's "lightning" not "lightening".
I wonder about that "slaughtered by the fury of the Danes" bit. It's probably their weapons, and not their emotions, doing the real damage. Perhaps "by the furious Danes". Your sentence has a nice ring to it, but I'm sure there are readers out there more pedantic than myself.
"Out" is repeated twice in the first sentence of the second paragraph.
"foe" in the third paragraph should be plural, not singular. The second paragraph is grammatically flawed - it should be "watched as his only living parent entered the fray" or "watched his only living parent enter the fray". Oh, and I'd reword the weapon / armour bit of the red-bearded foe - I think you wear armour rather than bear it. Not a big thing, but a little clumsy IMHO.
I think "rise" might also be more appropriate than "arise" in that concluding sentence. And I'd change the end of either the second of third paragraph so that they don't both trail off with an ellipse.
I hope you find a place for this somewhere, as it deserves one!
Perhaps, Chris, it could be a prologue. Or you could have short interludes that follow an alternate and older timeline. These interludes could be situated as short little breaks or segues between one major section of the story and another, like if you had portions of the story big enough to divide it into "books" or "parts." This device would be especially useful if you have several of these older timeline vignettes that seem homeless and yet they contribute to the story overall.
Posts: 284 | Registered: Sep 2004
Shanu: This is fantasy, but science fantasy, meaning I'm striving for that in between place.
Magic Beans: If Pendaran was the prime viewpoint character I make make it a prologue. Though, do you think it would confuse the reader? Plus it could be to much melodrama before they are introduced.
Short interludes are a good idea. I guess I need to think a little how it would work. The story starts of the the 21st century, and I toyed with having whole sections in the 4th, 9th, 11th centuries. A better writer could make it work.
This snippet is an important driving mechanism in how this antagonist become a zealous antagonist. Even if its not revealed, at least it is there, hidden, to drive the character.
Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver actually has two timelines alternating through the first part: one that takes place during 1658-ish, and one that takes place in 1713. He alternates chapters and timelines, but not viewpoint characters. He makes it work quite well.
Of course, I haven't read the whole thing, but it seems a writer of your ability should have no trouble getting a good old-fashioned flashback to work properly. All you need is a pensive moment and a trigger for the flashback.
Many writers abuse flashbacks by wedging them into the wrong place when they really should have started telling the story earlier in the first place.
You could perhaps go the other way with it and expand on it even more, incorporating the backstory into the main of the novel as events which happened earlier. One part takes place in ancient times, the other in future times.
Another way isn't really a flashback, it's one character relating past events to another character. In Ann Rice's vampire books, every time we meet another vampire, that vampire eventually tells his or her story to the viewpoint character. Not only do we get this great story-within-a-story, but we settle into the first-person account one character relates to another. Occasionally, the listening character asks a question or whatever and we're back to the main story. Rice lets us know she hasn't lost us. Then we plunge back in to the first-person recounting.
If you were to try something similar, you need ask who would Pendarin tell his story to, and when should he do it? Just because Ann Rice did it doesn't mean you can't do it. There's nothing new under the sun. You'll do it your way, make it your own.
Don't force your ideas on the story that wants to be told. Let it come out and see what happens.
[This message has been edited by Magic Beans (edited October 09, 2004).]
<If you were to try something similar, you need ask who would Pendarin tell his story to, and when should he do it?>
That might be a good idea for parts of his story. This recurrant nightmare based on an event that occured when he was 3 or 4. However, 80 years later he had the same recurrant nightmare. As a rising star within the Senate, who are supposed to rigidly control thier dreams, it is a secret that if exposed could send him into exile.
Later, in the 11th century, he undergoes the Lake of Transformation, to gain powerful abilities, and as a result, can only dream of the last waking episode, be that hours, a minute or a second. Thus he is relieved of the problem.