Hey! I'm actually mailing you because I need some advice. A few months ago I started working on a new potential novel. I have lots of ideas, some sort of outline, amazing characters, everything, but I feel like I can't continue writing because of one major dilemma: because my story is so big and my main character's had a difficult past, I want to switch each chapter between past and present. But I don't know how without confusing myself and/or readers. Do you have any advice? Thanks in advance!
On a personal level, I’m a huge fan of stories that switch between past and present. When done right, it can have a really wonderful effect. In fact, I’m currently writing a few stories that also switch back and forth between past and present.
I think the best advice I can offer has one main point: make sure that there is something (e.g. chapter titles, dates, switching of tenses, switching of perspectives, etc.) that clearly marks a difference between the two timelines. As long as the reader knows which part is the past and which is present, they should be able to follow along pretty well. I would also recommend, once you get a little further in your manuscript, to find a beta reader, someone with fresh eyes to go over your work. Sometimes, as writers, because we know the ins and outs of our novel and our characters, something might make sense to us, but they might not make sense to someone who doesn’t know as much.
Let us know if we can help more.