Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Clarification and Help request


The picture from two days ago was taken while I was trying to capture a shot like this one taken six years ago. This particular shot began the news letter and the card shot was one of the kids on the beach in front of the Burj Al Arab. In this one you can see the ubiquitous Santa hat that we don't have this year as it's still in the container. With the help of God, we shall be in our villa this time next week but with out Internet so you may not here from me for a few days - on the other hand I may resort to an Internet cafe!!!! Also I sounded very virtuous with my Christmas letter but It is an essential of life if you have moved around as much as we have.......friends all over the place.
Thank you those you have popped by to read the chapter of August Rock. The feedback has been super and very kind. I do have a question to through out there though. AS I have gone for Opening sentence one, the wedding departure scene has to be told in flashback which leads to a tremendous number of hads. Is there any way of eliminating some of them or getting around it in anyway it. Here's the second paragraph:
Hours ago when she had stood in the doorway of the church; all she had been able to see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons had adorned every pew, the altar barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, had stood among the flowers; tall, blond, perfect yet even he had not escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls’ dresses. They had spun around her knees with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.
That's only the second paragraph. The flashback scene goes on for a page an a half. Any thought would be helpful.

16 comments:

Jan Jones said...

I usually replace some by a contraction if possible.

So.........
Hours ago when she had stood in the doorway of the church, all she'd been able to see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons had adorned every pew, the altar barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, had stood among the flowers; tall, blond, perfect, yet even he hadn't escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls’ dresses. They'd spun around her knees with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.

And, at the risk of sounding nit-picky, I'd take out the particularly pale pink phrase. You're trying to be concise with the flashback and that extends the sentence and isn't necessary.

Just my opinion :)

Flowerpot said...

Yes I agree with Jan. Too many 'had's slow it all down. Just need enough to signify a flashback.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jan, you are a star :-)

Thanks for the feedback Flowerpot...

JJ said...

Oooh, fantastic photo Liz.

I bet you end up in an internet cafe!

JJx

liz fenwick said...

I think you're right JJ. Must find out the nearest soon :-)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I do it a different way (after reading sections on flashback in a couple of how-to books): I use 'had' (or equivalent contraction) the first two or three times, then slip seamlessly back into my usual syntax. Quite a few writers use this technique - I spot it regularly, now, in novels - and it seems to work; you take the reader with you. So: Hours ago when she had stood in the doorway of the church, all she'd been able to see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons adorned every pew, the altar barely visible... Then I stay like that, on the whole, until the end of the flashback where I use something concrete/sensory from the present time to bring the characters - and the reader - back to the present. (BTW I'm not saying this is a *better* technique than Jan's, just offering an alternative; each has its own place, sometimes it's useful to mix-and-match, like when you have a flashback-within-a-flashback, and no doubt there are other methods too.)

cs harris said...

Ditto to the above. Start with had, then slip into simple past, coming back to the use of "had" right before the flashback ends.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Zinnia and CS :-)

Alyssa Goodnight said...

How about 'Flowers and ribbons adoring every pew...' and a few contractions: she'd...

B.E. Sanderson said...

Hours ago when she stood in the doorway of the church; all she could see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons adorned every pew then, the altar barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, had stood among the flowers; tall, blond, perfect yet even he hadn't escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls’ dresses. They'd spun around her knees with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.

In the first sentence, 'hours ago' makes the time obvious enough. Throw in a 'then' and some contractions farther down the paragraph and the time frame should be apparent. =oD

liz fenwick said...

Thanks BE and Alyssa :-)

Phillipa said...

Liz. I actually do what Zinnia suggested. I'd switch into the past tense when you reach 'adorned'. I've got a huge flashback in JSY. It lasts for about one third of the book and I needed to switch over quite quickly from 'had'. Mind you, I haven't seen my edits yet so what do I know!

Biddy said...

Liz - very quick question, a friend of mine is visiting Dubai soon and was wondering whether he needs any special jabs or treatment.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Ha, I had exactly this problem a while back on my current WIP. I eventually chose to leave out most of the hads. I included a few so that it was a apparent to the reader the scene was a flashback and then I took left them out - what I found was the scene became more immediate - and I think this is often important with flashbacks which can drag otherwise.

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Philippa and Absolute. All the input helps.

Biddy, nothing needed other than sun block :-)

Jan said...

LOvely family, Liz. Enjoy!