All right, I tried to put that double-flashback-whatever you call it scene together. How does this look? (Some spoilers, though since this is a scene from mid-late chapter 2 out of 8, the things spoiled are at least fairly early on.)NOTES:
- I wanted to handle all the double-flashback stuff with the past perfect tense but I just ... couldn't. I tried, I really did, but even in just a four paragraph mini-summation deal, making every single verb had-everything just got ridiculous and unreadable.
- Instead, I transported (or at least tried to, you tell me how clear and effective the transitions are) the point of reference back, then forward again, just so I could use simple past in both the earlier and later parts. So, yes, now I really literally am having a second flashback within the first flashback. Obviously figuring that nonsense out presented its own pile of problems, but to be honest, those were easier to solve than the whole past perfect thing was.
- To that end, I used miniature scene breaks (those parts where there's an empty line between two paragraphs even though the rest of the paragraphs are usually connected to each other.) Throughout the entire novel, I try to establish and repeatedly use those as a way to signify some sort of shift within the same scene. The vast majority of the time it's a location, like one overall scene in which characters talk to each other and then leave the area and continue the conversation somewhere else or something, but it also comes in handy for moments like this.
- I started the double-flashback out in past perfect and then switched to simple past, with the sentence "That only happened after Celine shook me" being the bridge between the two. If the shift is jarring, it's supposed to mirror and coincide with the jarring nature of his being interrupted by Celine shaking him. In that moment, she changed his entire life, including his verb tenses, or something. I honestly don't know if you're allowed to do that, but it sounded all right to me when I read it back to myself, so here's hoping.
- The writing style is ... less than perfectly formal because the narrator is kind of a street punk type. (Which meant I had to figure out all this verb nonsense for two- to three-layer deep flashbacks and then run it all through a bad grammar filter on top of that, which was even more awesome.)
- I feel justified in using an almost in medias res dialogue line from nowhere ("Keeper Edward was more than a leader") as a way to bring the reader back to the
present first level of flashback, because that exact line already occurred in chapter 1. In fact, that and the subsequent paragraph are supposed to be landmarks/tells, establishing that this is the same funeral from before but from this narrator's perspective. Rook's speech is identical and is how we know where and when we are now, while the current narrator's thoughts on the matter are new.
Of course, if I can come up with a million reasons why I feel justified in doing what I did but the reader hates it, then none of my reasons matter. My goal here is to make something good, which is kind of in the eye of the audience! So you'll have to tell me if this ... works.
It was the worst day of my life. Worse than when I woke up in the wilds, naked and afflicted. Worse than when I was alone and starving. Worse than anything, ever.
It was the day I lost Keeper Edward.
It had happened early in the morning. Sunrise. I had been sleeping, and so had everyone except for whoever had watch—Celine?—and whoever had felt like being up at that hour anyway. Not me. I had heard a loud noise, or at least I thought I had, but I hadn't really woken up yet. That only happened after Celine shook me.
"Hunters!" she shouted. "Keeper Edward's dead! We have to move! Get up! Get your things! Run!"
My memory of our escape was a little fuzzy. I only remembered going from barely awake to grief-stricken. Keeper Edward? Dead? I hadn't even had time to process it, and suddenly we had to scramble, break and cover up the campsite, hide any evidence that anyone else had been there, and run.
It didn't really hit me until we had stopped moving. Once it did, I cried off and on for the whole rest of the day. Every time I started to calm down, I looked around and saw that Keeper Edward wasn't with us, and I cried again.
Dead. He was dead.
Marc had decided that we should have a funeral. We had to do something. Keeper Edward meant too much to everyone not to. We had to leave his body behind in our escape, so we couldn't give him a proper burial or anything, but we still held a gathering for him. We had to. It was the most we could do, but at the same time, it was the least we could do.
"Keeper Edward was more than a leader."
No one was happy that evening, but I was in the worst shape. Every time I thought I'd be all right, someone else's speech would make me cry all over again. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, I had to listen to Rook.
[And then it keeps going from there]
---This is a cross-posted entry that originated from http://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/334807.html.