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  1. #1
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    flashback scenes

    Hi Guys. Any help or opinions will be greatly appreciated.

    I have a dramatic scene that is a flashback to my protag's childhood. It's a dramatic scene that changes the trajectory of his life. I don't want to write it in past tense, and I can't use it as a prologue. The scene is about 700 words. I would LIKE to take a whole section and write the scene in present tense, after an emotional scene that triggers the protag's memory of it. Maybe something like He had made a mistake once; would he have to keep paying for it the rest of his life? He remembered that day . . . then start a new section of the scene in present tense.

    I don't recall having seen this before, though I' sure someone has done it.

    Any thoughts? Dangers? Again, thanks.



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Tinman View Post
    Hi Guys. Any help or opinions will be greatly appreciated.

    I have a dramatic scene that is a flashback to my protag's childhood. It's a dramatic scene that changes the trajectory of his life. I don't want to write it in past tense, and I can't use it as a prologue. The scene is about 700 words. I would LIKE to take a whole section and write the scene in present tense, after an emotional scene that triggers the protag's memory of it. Maybe something like He had made a mistake once; would he have to keep paying for it the rest of his life? He remembered that day . . . then start a new section of the scene in present tense.

    I don't recall having seen this before, though I' sure someone has done it.

    Any thoughts? Dangers? Again, thanks.
    I've done it a few times. just sectionalize it off and make as sure as you can that the reader will understand what the cut out section is. If it doesn't work, you'll probably decide that in a review after you've written the whole work.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Miranda Clementine's Avatar
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    I can't think of a time when I have seen it done either, but I do wonder, why don't you want to write it in past tense? I know this question may not help, but I am curious.

    I would think it would have the same dangers as the past tense version, you just need to make sure (as Gary said) it is clear to the reader that it's a flashback scene.
    Even those who make their living in dreamland must do their chores in the real world.
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  4. #4
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    Gary...ty. Yeah, another section rewritten and deleted. It should be easier after the thousandth time lol

  5. #5
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    Miranda. Hi. To maintain the tension. It's easier for me (at least) in present tense. Plus, without going into needless detail, I don't want the reader to know it's a flashback until the last paragraph. I've seen some written in present tense, after the transition, but I LIKE the idea of writing it as an individual scene. Maybe it's a mistake, or maybe I'll fall flat on my face, but that's how you learn, right? Thanks!!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Miranda Clementine's Avatar
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    Ah ha, I knew there was more to it than just wanting to stay in the present tense. Interesting twist. In my most inexperienced opinion, and with the knowledge that I may very well be aiding you in falling flat on your face, as long as you don't do it within the first handful or so of chapters, and, of course, it is done well with the shock value you are going for, not just a stunt that leaves the reader going "huh, what'd he do that for?" I think an agent or editor may like it.

    I also wanted to note that I know it has likely been done, I just can't remember reading one. Good luck!!
    Even those who make their living in dreamland must do their chores in the real world.
    -Scarlett Rice
    MC

  7. #7
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    To clarify: your novel is written in past tense, and you want to include a flashback written in present tense?

    Are any other scenes written in present tense?

  8. #8
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    I have seen a young adult author do this, perhaps Robert Cormier or Chris Crutcher? I think the key is that transitional scene, whatever triggers the memory can make him feel as if he is reliving it in present tense language.

  9. #9
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    I think the key is that transitional scene
    I agree. I write in present tense and toss in a few flashbacks in past tense, but I can see how present tense would work if it's carefully orchestrated.

  10. #10
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    Miranda. It's about halfway into the book. Obviously, I think it will work . . . if I do it right lol.

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