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Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 1:42 AM
Joined: 5/24/2015
Posts: 3

I’m writing my debut novel, and this strong story is already hard enough with its many levels of psychological and medical issues.

In the first instance, this is about ‘the 18-year-old girl’ but in the second has an important backstory involving her mother and father and two others that met at Harvard University 42 years ago.

It’s important to bring that secondary backstory into the main story, but I don’t want this backstory to overtake what this book is about – the 18-year-old girl.

I don’t know how to structure this. I’m asking for you to help me.


Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 11:00 AM
Joined: 6/10/2015
Posts: 26

Hi Lisa! First of all, welcome to Book Country.


I'm not sure what your general plan for your book is, so its tricky to give you perfect advice. However, that said, I can try to give you a few ideas. You could (a) try to put the parents story as the beginning of the book before jumping into the part about the girl, unless it is too long and would end up being half the book. Or, perhaps even better, (b) put a bit of the story at the beginning of chapters as a kind of "opener". If the parent story is too long, you could (c) cut it down by summarizing parts of the story later, perhaps having other characters tell the story.


These are just some ideas that I had on the top of my head. Good luck!

Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 4:55 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Hi, @LJA--welcome to Book Country! Glad to see you jumping right into the discussions on the site.


How much of the book have you written so far?



Posted: Saturday, June 27, 2015 9:55 PM
Joined: 5/24/2015
Posts: 3



Thank you for the welcome, I think this is a great place especially for a wannabe like me - so informative, so generous.


With reading so many books  I've learnt what not to do, and that's why I'm taking this structure so seriously (and it doesn't help that I'm a perfectionist).


I really like your suggestion of  put a bit of the story at the beginning of chapters as a kind of "opener" and have opted to use that.


I was wondering though can you suggest how I head the chapter page for that? Maybe...



Chapter 3


1973 Harvard University, Orientation Week

 Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla



 Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla 



Posted: Saturday, June 27, 2015 9:59 PM
Joined: 5/24/2015
Posts: 3

Hi Lucy,


Thank you too for the welcome.


So far I've done 15 thousand words, but apart from the prologue and epilogue all the rest are only scenes. I've got scenes all over the place written just waiting for me to finalise a structure.



Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2015 10:36 AM
Joined: 10/7/2013
Posts: 65

Have you thought about using "flashbacks" to tell the back story; just bits here and there.  Have you done an outline of the plot?  Some writers don't like outlines, but they always help me with structure.  Plus you can always add things and take them out of the outline if you want.
Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Monday, June 29, 2015 8:49 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Got it, LJA. I like Theresa's idea about flashbacks--I am doing something similar in my WIP. They are hard to keep track of, so I definitely am relying a lot on my outline. I am referring to it every few minutes, but it's helping me stay organized for sure.
John Speikers
Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2015 4:47 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 20

Two timelines 42 years apart. Two solutions:

(1) Book 1 & Book 2.

(2) Combine into two timelines in One book. Weave two timelines like a fugue.  Both have to keep hold the reader's interest.  At the beginning of the novel, the two narrative need not connect, but at the end of the novel, the reader should be able to see how each relates to the other.


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