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Odd timeline, possibly a big issue?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Trick, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I have posted about this before but it's been a while and, after reading a TON of Immerse or Die reports, I'm growing doubts again. I'm seeking honesty, as I am happy to say is the norm here on MS.

    My WIP is in Memoir style, thus it is in FPPOV and the MC is 'kind of' an anti-hero type with a big ego and he loves to brush the fourth wall. I don't think that's an issue since an egotistical person writing a memoir is pretty likely to address the future readers. There is another memoir interspersed throughout the book from the POV of a secondary character but that part doesn't concern me too much, at the moment anyway.

    Now that the setup is clear as mud, here is my issue: My timeline is kind of odd. There is a prologue and I won't argue about it here; it takes place in the past (over a hundred years, which in and of itself is important), it focuses on two important secondary characters and reveals things about the book I can't put anywhere else. If that changes as I write, I'll reconsider it then.

    Chapter one begins with the MC hanging by one hand, many strides above some very hot fires. He is in the middle of a heist and has nearly fallen to his death. His age is explicitly given as 19. After hooking the reader (hopefully) he explains (remember, memoir style) that in that moment, he decided that, if he survived, he would write down all the amazing things that have happened in his life and thus, he's writing the memoir. He then jumps back in time to tell about his childhood. It's actually quite exciting (from what I've been told [obviously, I already thought so]), especially considering that the MC is a kid. Each chapter sees him getting older and volume one ends with him back at the heist where he started his story (the book will be three 'volumes'). In volume two he digresses again but only a bit and it has been made very clear that the MC has a bit of a scatter brain and is more than a bit unreliable, in a snarky, sarcastic way. I may have the transition from volume 2 to 3 do a similar thing and keep the theme going but I want to know, does this structure sound immediately unappealing?

    I know that, without reading a sample, it's hard to say; but what impression does this give you? I can't put up a sample yet because I hand write everything before getting it typed up and not enough is typed and edited for me to post an excerpt (something I am rectifying in the next couple weeks).
     
  2. Truepinkas

    Truepinkas Dreamer

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    I'm fine with the timeline, seems good given his reason for writing things down. I'm not sold on the secondary narrator, but if you can make it work, go for it.
     
    Trick likes this.
  3. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Glad it doesn't throw you off :)

    The secondary narrator is the manservant of the antagonist and keeps a journal (so it's not really a memoir, I guess) and his chapters are shorter and placed throughout the book chronologically (excepting the jumps in the timeline). Basically, the memoir and the journal were put together by a third party for general consumption. I think I can make it work but we'll see what readers say.
     
  4. Truepinkas

    Truepinkas Dreamer

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    Also, just food for thought, with this formatting you are basically asking your readers to endure three opening chapters, the prologue, Ch1, and Ch2. You need to have them all be very strong and have good hooks to drag them all the way through to the meat of your story.
     
  5. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    It could work fine, depending on execution of course.

    I like the concept of tying the beginning in with the end. A return to the same scene. I think that type of foreshadowing can work very well, especially so if the return creates a shift in the reader's perception (what they thought was going on in the beginning shows itself to be something different in the end, though they look the same on the surface).

    My main concern would regard backstory. You say he goes back and begins the memoir with his life as a child. I hope he had an exciting childhood, enough to rivet the reader and keep them interesting.

    As Stephen King says:
    Everyone has a backstory, and most of it isn't very interesting.
     
  6. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

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    Well as you said, it is difficult to say for sure without a sample to read, but as far as I can tell it sounds interesting :) I say as long as you can keep the reader interested then go for it.
     
  7. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Fortunately, the prologue is a single scene, probably only about two printed pages.

    Thanks, TAS. I think his backstory is pretty riveting but that's no kind of usable assessment. I remember discussing this with BW Foster a long while back. Basically, he witnesses his fathers brutal murder at 7yrs old, get's his first job within weeks afterward (not even a page in book time) and, while working in a very dangerous scrapyard, begins stealing things. By the end of chapter one he has stolen something that I would equate with a child stealing a Mercedes Benz in the real world. He get's away with it too. Within another chapter he steals from a crime syndicate (without realizing) and sells them their own goods back through one of their legit businesses (a pawn shop). Instead of killing him, they hire him; after sufficiently scaring the crap out him, of course. He is a professional thief working for a crime boss at twelve years old and it get's even more exciting from there.

    It's kind of a Prince of Thorns situation where the MC is quite young but intelligent, brave (or brash, depending) and capable.
     
  8. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Sounds plenty interesting & riveting.
     
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