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July 26th, 2003, 10:26 PM
So I need some advice here. I've got this great little time travel story worked out. It's only a short story - the plot simply can't go too far.

Anyway, I've got a nice linear plotline for the story that follows two characters. One of these characters is a rather mysterious fellow with a background that I'd rather not give away immediately. I want the reader to learn about him slowly and for that to be part of the suspense of the story.

But it seems to me, for a number of reasons, that the linear path is a rather dry one. To begin with, it's a rather complicated time travel tale and I feel that the straight path is not exactly the best one. Secondly, it will give the reader a little more to think about along the way.

The second possible way of telling this story is with the first storyline in place, but with intermittent splices of a second, less defined story arc that takes place in the future and slowly winds its way into the present that is the main body of the story.

This method would do better at explaining the complexities inherent with the time travel and would make for a more interesting read.

The downside is that, from my point of view, the reader might too quickly figure out the mystery of the individual I mentioned above.

I'd like some advice on how to proceed here, if that's possible.

And to make this thread not solely focused around me, how do you people usually write your stories? Do you have interconnected storylines that start out in different places and eventually flow together nicely? Or do you prefer to center the story on a few specific characters that drive the plot forward? And why of course!

July 26th, 2003, 10:52 PM
Something to always think about whenever you begin your story: What is the best or most interesting place to begin the story? I ran into a similar problem once and really did not like the straightforward path. So I mixed things up. I started with a scene in the middle, backtracked to the beginning until I caught up to the opening sequence, then continued with the rest. It was much more difficult to juggle, but it solved my problem. It added spice to an otherwise bland progression.

Of the two techniques you mentioned, I like your second idea. It would be more interesting (as long as it doesn't get confusing). Just be careful about revealing too much--be vague when you need to--so that it isn't eaily guessed.

As for preferences in styles, I've seen all kinds that were really interesting, so I'd say as long as it's well-written and the style fits the story, I'm not incredibly particular.

July 29th, 2003, 08:28 PM
I have tried that second method before and, at least in my humble opinion, it worked out okay. The only problem was that it was hard to keep track of not only WHO I'm talking about but what they know at the time.

Here's how my story broke out.

I have the major story arc taking place at time Z involving characters A, B, C, and D. Character A is originally from time Z while the others are from time Y, X, adn W respectively.

Now, this is going to be messy.

The story starts at a point that I'll call Z - 10 give or take. We learn a little about character A (the major mysterious character).

Next, we go back to time Y and meet character B (POV)and have some interactions with character B and A. Character A brings Character B to time Z - 3 or so. Then we go back to time Z - 9 and interact with character A (POV) some more.

Next, we go back to time X and meet character C (POV) . We interact with character C and A. Then Character A brings character C to time Z -3. We go back to Z - 8 and interact with character A (POV) some more.

Next we go back to time W and meet Character D (POV). We interact with character D and A. Then A brings D to time Z-3. We go back to Z-7 and interact with A (POV) some more.

So now, we have Character A 'present' is time Z-6, B , C, D present is time Z-3. We interact with B at time Z - 3, with C at time Z - 2, and with D at time Z -1. Then we interact with A from Z-6 to Z-1 and go through the whole meeting of B, C, D again from A's POV. At last, we get to time Z and finish up the major story arc.

All this time, the major story arc has been devolping with character A and only at Z is he ready to finish it.

Okay confused yet? Good. It's hard to keep track of who's who and when's when. It's easy to get lost and even easier to shoot yourself in the foot as it were.

I think that time travel stories are inherently tricky just in the interactions (as noted). Try not to violate Causality (i.e. I'm my own grandpa).

My stories are usually quite convoluted in that there is usually a number of parties involved with their own agendas. IT's hard to keep track of everythign and make sure that it all comes together. Good luck

July 30th, 2003, 12:41 AM
Back To The Future is a good example of where things should have gone terribly wrong, but he got away with his tampering.

I never saw the sequals, but how come Marty's parents dont remember him from the past? There's a major inconsistency.

July 30th, 2003, 10:15 AM
Originally posted by Chlestron
<snip messy letters>

Yah, I'm doing something like that, but not so complicated. For me I've got a character who is from the future, goes to the way past, lives to our present, and then interacts with characters from a past of his original present, which is the future of our present.

Try not to violate Causality (i.e. I'm my own grandpa).

While this would generally be good advice, I'm trying to create a mind bending paradox in which I have a series of events that have no beginning. So I think I'm going to take a crap on causality instead.

how come Marty's parents dont remember him from the past?

You're a teenager. This strange kid comes through and does weird stuff. Decades later you have a child that looks sort of like him. Would you really believe it?

July 30th, 2003, 03:53 PM
While this would generally be good advice, I'm trying to create a mind bending paradox in which I have a series of events that have no beginning. So I think I'm going to take a crap on causality instead.

Oh kinda like the whole Terminator thing - THINK about it.

Well I think that if you're going to try something like that, you will want to at least mention how it's possible that he's not chaning his own present by his actions in the past. I recently read a pretty good time-travel story that had just that premise called "Bones of the Earth" (don't remember the author) and, at the end of this convoluted mess we learn that things happen that way because... well they happened that way. It was difficult to follow and hard to see the cause-effect relationship.

It's perfectly alright to muck about with the laws of physics, just be careful doing so. Be consistent with your own rules and you should be fine.

July 30th, 2003, 03:55 PM
If you're bored with the linear timeline, then changing it is probably a good idea. The only obstacle to splicing in the second, future plotline is that people might guess who mysterio is too early. Well, they're going to be guessing anyway. Your main goal therefore perhaps should be to obsfucate the second storyline enough that they can't be completely sure their guess is correct and they keep reading to the end to find out if they're right.

Suggestions for how to do that are difficult to give without more detailed information about the plot. But if you can identify what parts of a second storyline might give the game away and then try to make the details of those parts fuzzier, maybe throw in a red herring or two, you can probably balance it out. You control what the reader sees when, after all, though you can't control how readers guess about your plot.

July 30th, 2003, 11:51 PM
Marty also told his father about Darth Vader! There is no way they'd forget him.

Back on topic. You're going to have to weigh up suspension of disbelief against getting your plot to work the way you want it.