The Flashback Conundrum

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As I embark on writing the sequel to The Muse, I find myself in the middle of an artistic quandary. Writing a series is tricky business, particularly when it comes to reminding the reader what happened in the previous book(s) in a subtle, yet effective way. It’s all too easy to alienate readers with overwhelming reminders or lose them by providing little or no details to jog the memory.

Having read multiple Young Adult series books, I’ve taken note of how each author handles the  “flashback conundrum.” The methods vary greatly from series to series, which makes me seriously question how I should handle the flashback conundrum that inevitably plagues every series.  Ultimately, it comes down to how much an author trusts the reader. In the YA genre, we are dealing with a generation with short attention spans, but also fangirl mentalities that forget nothing. It’s a paradox with no simple solution!

The methodology of crafting a series flashback seems to break down into four categories:

Snapshot Flashback

This method involves inserting nuggets of information within the first few chapters or the entire sequel in small doses. Flashback details are carefully chosen and strategically placed to keep the reader apprised of necessary information without detracting from the story as it pushes forward.

Best example: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga

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Prologue Flashback

Some authors choose to remind readers of key storyline details by crafting a prologue that directly states prior events or utilizes a similar story layout or literary technique to pull the reader back into the world that was created in previous volumes. In a sense, it works like a mnemonic device to trigger the memory.

Best example: Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush Saga

hush hush books

Information Dump Flashback

This style of flashback tends to be unpopular, but unfortunately it still pops up in a number of series. The author essentially dumps large blocks of information either at the beginning of the sequel or in chunks throughout the installment. Most readers find this annoying and very distracting. I’d have to agree.

Best example: Luckily, I haven’t come across the information dump in recent YA reads, but it is very present in just about every Dan Brown book involving Robert Langdon since The Da Vinci Code. The Lost Symbol is the worst offender.

Invisible Flashback

There are a number of YA authors that implicitly trust their readers to remember every detail, look it up on wikipedia, or take the time to comb through the previous books. Little or no references to previous novels are included as readers are just expected to know everything.

Best example: Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices Series

Cassandra Clare Books The Mortal Instrumenst The Infernal Devices

Authors of all genres have grappled with the flashback conundrum as there are undoubtedly far more than four methods. Still, the question remains which method is the  most effective and least annoying to readers? There is no easy answer as readers are as diverse as the books they read.

To all readers and writers out there, I put the question in your hands …

 

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c.b.w. 2014

Time For A Change?

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My blog has looked exactly the same for three years. When I first set the theme, I loved the color, simplicity, and atmosphere. In many ways, I still love my blog’s theme, but I’m also starting to feel the itch for something new. As my writing and creative pursuits grow and evolve, it seems only fitting that my blog reflects the changes of both myself and my muse.

The problem is I can’t decide what kind of changes I want to make. Do I want something sleek and modern? Or colorful? Or minimalist? The possibilities are endless and its hard to pinpoint a style that is both progressive and reflective of my creative interests. All I know is I like color (subtle, not bold), horizontal headers, and a simple layout.

It’s tempting to go with what I traditionally prefer, but I’m also considering a massive departure from the norm. I spend so much time on my blog, I’m curious to see how a drastic change might shake up my muse. Perhaps, my muse will be inspired to try new and exciting avenues of artistic creation.

While a foray into something new could open up new doors, there is something to be said staying true to myself. I don’t want to wander too far away from who I am or how I want to express myself. The last thing I want to be is fake blogger who represents one thing but thinks another. This blog has always been and always will be about following my muse.

Am I over thinking this? Probably. It’s as simple as picking a theme and clicking a button, right? Wrong! If I choose a theme that is too different from my current layout, I’ll have to go back and re-format over 600 posts. I may even have to reconfigure my footers, widgets, and menus. Nothing about that sounds fun!

Despite my misgivings about having to re-format, I am well aware that my blog is starting to look outdated. Pretty soon, it’s going to occupy the same shelf as cell phones with buttons and heavy laptops. No one wants to visit a blog that looks like a relic from the past (unless it’s a history blog!), nor do they want to spend time navigating a site with an archaic set-up.

As I contemplate the prospect of change, I’m reminded that things always do and must change. The last thing I want is for my muse to stagnate in a vortex of “sameness,” so I better get busy and start making some big decisions. If my blog looks a little strange over the next couple of weeks, chalk it up to experimentation on my part. I hope you’ll stick around for the remodel!

Here are some of themes I’m considering at the moment:

Fictive

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Flounder

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Writr

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BonPress

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Retro-Fitted

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What do you think?

 

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c.b.w. 2014

 

Simon’s Cat Poetry Poll: Last Day!

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Today is the last day to vote in the Simon’s Cat poetry poll! Three poems are on the ballot waiting for readers to choose which one will be submitted to the Simon’s Cat Poetry Competition. If you have a few seconds, I would appreciate your vote! Follow the link to the poll to pick your favorite:

Simon’s Cat Poetry Poll

Thank you!

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Just for fun, here’s the video that started it all:

(This pretty much describes my morning)

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c.b.w. 2013

Simon’s Cat Poetry Poll

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With my Simon’s Cat toy sitting on my desk, I’ve been busy writing possible entries for the Simon’s Cat Poetry Competition. Writing cute and funny poetry is definitely a challenge for me as I usually rely on nature and architecture as a means of inspiration. I’ve got a few poems that I’m relatively happy with and I thought it might be fun to let my readers decide which one I will submit. The last poetry poll was so successful, I figured this was the perfect way to usher in my first writing submission of 2013.

For each poem, I listed the inspiration as the competition is looking for poetry inspired by Simon’s Cat images or videos. I stuck with my favorite videos, (click on the images to watch the full length video) as well as the drawing that introduced the contest.

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Baseball Bat and Empty Dish

Simon's Cat

See my dish,
where’s the fish?

Cute and fat,
fill my vat

Starving cat
swings a bat

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Sticky Tape

Simon's Cat Sticky Tape

Sticky tape
on my foot
tongue and ear

Meow! Get off!
I panic
still not clear

There, it’s gone
Meow! I win!
Tail flick cheer

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Fly Guy

Simon's Cat Fly Guy

Simon sits
unaware

Buzzing fly
stalking cat

Big eyes watch
waiting to pounce

Curtains shred
lampshade dead

Fly goes splat
Meow, now what?

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Thanks for voting! Results will be posted on Friday, January 25th.

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c.b.w. 2013

Last Day to Vote!

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Today is the last day to vote on any and all rounds of the Poetry Poll!  Results for all four rounds, including the winners will be announced tomorrow.  How exciting is that?!

Follow the links to cast your vote:

Poetry Poll #1

Poetry Poll #2

Poetry Poll #3

Poetry Poll #4

Thank you so much! I never cease to be amazed by my wonderful readers.

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c.b.w. 2012