Writerly Blather – Timelines And Other Technical Stuff

Last night the dude and I watched Rise – a vampire flick starring Lucy Liu. I love vampire movies and this one was unusual and in the end I enjoyed it. I did think the timeline issues – flashback sequences threaded with current time sequences – were jarring and IMO, took away from the fluidity of the story. It was confusing AND, as my husband pointed out, kept calling attention to how she apparently had time to stop in at Gene Juarez for a color and makeup session in between killing evil undead. She did look very stylish, by the way. I think the wardrobe people did a great job.

It got me thinking about how technical issues in how we choose to tell a story can either enhance or take away from the overall experience for the reader/viewer. On one hand, it’s a bold move to do the flashback sequences the way the director did. An info dump slows down the story but with a story like Rise, it’s necessary. It could have moved more traditionally from the moment she was changed to the end, but he went another way. Interesting choice, it opens with girl kissing which well, let’s face it, keeps the dudes happy and it’s not like Lucy Liu is hard to look at by any stretch of the imagination, but it sort of fed into a quick buck sort of feel and then you’re jerked backward in time and then forward again.

Anyway, I’m rambling, but it made me think of Outlander (a book I love, love, love) and essentially, you do have some folding back and forth in time but it’s judicious and in Gabaldon’s case, it totally works because it’s judicious.

What do you guys think? What are some unusual technical things that worked for you and didn’t work? Memento comes to mind as a really brilliant story told unconventionally and just works well. Pulp Fiction too because it’s circular and you don’t quite realize it until the end and you’re like, “Oh!” In books though, I think messing with timelines is far more tricky than in a movie because the thread is mental and not visual. It takes longer to track back to the main story.

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