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Flashblacks and flashforwards in fiction - how useful/necessary are they? When does too much become

The use of flashbacks and flashforwards is a controversial subject among writers and writing advice pages. Some encourage flashbacks/flashforwards, while others encourage to avoid (especially if they bogg the narrative down or doesn’t contribute anything to the overall plot). How does this criticism and in depth understanding of this literary device assist writers in improving their craft? How does this affect the way writers read/analyse flashbacks and flashforwards in fiction?

*Two novel’s that could be discussed in detail is "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan and "Time’s Arrow" by Martin Amis.

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    What makes a 'good' story?

    The art and craft of storytelling isn’t something that is ‘known’ but something a writer becomes to learn, with practice. However, stories (as a whole) can be extremely subjective; not every story/narrative is going to be loved by every reader. So: what makes a story ‘great’? What elements of traditional storytelling constitute a good story? Are authors who attempt to undermine these traditions ‘good’ storytellers?

    • This is a good start! You really ought to find some examples of some 'great' stories and see what threads may exist between them. Likewise, you could also find some bad ones and see what common mistakes they made. – majorlariviere 1 month ago
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    • It's all subjective, in the end, I agree. Some 'great' stories may have similar characteristics, or what is generally accepted and praised by the readers. In some cases it may be the name attached to it, making it a 'classic' so, therefore, it's seen as great, but I think what makes a good story is a sense of perspective, environment, description, and a well thought out idea. No matter the genre, the story needs heart. – sarahjae 1 month ago
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    Taken by Dena Elerian (PM) 1 month ago.
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    Boku no Hero Academia: The evolution of Superheroes

    Boku no Hero Academia (BnHK) is an anime series that has been rising in popularity over the years in Japan as well as with the Western audience. Among the recent slew of movies and entertainment based around superheroes, Boku no Hero Academia is no different. This follows a current trend in the evolution and redesigning of superheroes’ past and present. There are various similarities and identifiable inspirations that the author of BnHK has taken to flesh his characters, and yet there is a unique charm to one of the series’ protagonists: All Might that carries forward to other characters in the series and makes it truly unique. All Might is very much the Superman of the series, and yet there is something about his character that makes him far more evolved and endearing than the big boy scout. How does this correlate to the current perspective and revision of the modern superhero?

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      Fan Fiction & LGBT Expression

      Last week, Archive of Our Own (AO3), a major fanfiction archive and network, won the Hugo award for Best Related Work, an award never before given to a website or unpublished fan work. Fan fiction is the genre that comprises unpublished, written fan works based on other media, such as comics, television, film, and books. Perhaps because it is written by "amateurs" or because it is unpublished, fan fiction has often been scoffed at as unprofessional or self-indulgent. But for fans, fan fiction can be a way of reshaping popular media to reflect their identities. Members of the LGBT community in particular often criticize popular media for lacking compelling narratives surrounding LGBT themes, and when left unsatisfied, many fans turn to fanfiction to see themselves in the media they otherwise enjoy.

      How does fanfiction fill a void in representation for LGBT fans? What role does fanfiction serve in building and maintaining a fanbase, if any? And what happens when any particular piece of media garners a notable LGBT fan fiction fanbase? What transformative properties do LGBT fan works enact upon media, and what are the positive & negative consequences?

      • Fanfiction has always been a form of escape and wish-fulfillment. For some people, that may be making slight changes to stories; for others, it could be as large as changing a character's identity. Either way, it is a safe space to gather with a community of writers similar to you, and, if you already feel alienated because you are a part of a marginalized community, it can provide a support system you may not be able to find as easily elsewhere.This is a very interesting topic and one I hope someone will pick up. It is very complex and not something I can explain readily in a comment, but definitely one worth exploring. – fhlloyd 6 months ago
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      • Fanfiction is amazing. It gives both writers and readers the catharsis of a world in which they/their OC can interact with beloved people and characters. It's also a nice way of making oneself into someone they wish to be. I agree both with your "reshaping popular media" comment, as well as fhlloyd's comment regarding alienation and support systems. Despite being borne of one person's fantasies, others may find content relatable and enjoyable. – SmileQueenCross 6 months ago
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      Taken by SpookyDuet (PM) 1 month ago.
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      The Importance of Travelling to Creative Writing

      Analyse the importance of travelling to experience other cultures on the creative writing process (either your own experience or an author you are familiar with).

      • I think it would be good to include the aspect of travel as not necessarily only the aspect of exploring other countries and cultures, but to use 'travel' as a metaphor for stepping outside of our comfort or familiarity zone even in everyday life, and thereby creating more depth and experience to draw upon in our writing. – MonicaGrant 9 months ago
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      • Stepping outside of the world you know and into the unknown or the other worlds we’ve only read about is essential to unclogging writer’s block. As MonicaGrant said it’s also about getting out of your comfort zone, mentally. Traveling allows you to open up to these new spaces in your mind. It gives you new perspectives and issues to expand upon. Traveling gives you the opportunity to tell the people’s story of them that may not have a voice. – Jailel 8 months ago
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      • I agree with the sentiment that "travel" us a metaphor for stepping outside of one's comfort zone. Furthermore, an author travelling and exploring the unknown lends proper authenticity in regards to escapism, a trait that so many, if not all creative pieces, aim to have readers experience. – TahliaEve 7 months ago
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      • I'm wondering if this relationship might be more reciprocal than the suggested topic allows. What if creative writing is what encourages people to travel? – kelseyodegreef 7 months ago
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      • I definitely like this idea as I think many on this site could relate to the ideas expressed and would be interested to hear another's input. Especially when analyzed through the work of a few great authors of the past. – RJSTEELE 3 months ago
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      • Travelling I always feel can be taken both from a figurative and literal perspective as what one does in promoting their individual growth. The individual experiences of every writer play significant role in how their works turn out, and as such exploring not only the literal notion of traveling from one place to another, but also the mental traveling one endures when dealing with day to day life would be interesting for discussion. – ajaymanuel 2 months ago
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      • An example that could be drawn upon is Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America. – EJSmall 4 weeks ago
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      Is Print Media Beyond Saving?

      As the number of digital news sources rise, the number of print media consumers falls. Many believe that the death of print is inevitable since the generations that are accustom to print will eventually die out. Do you think younger generations will keep print alive? Is it really worth saving?

      • I think it will stay around as a novelty, especially since we can't keep the aesthetic of a bookshelf to display all our favorite works with an e-book for each lol I hope it stays around in some form but it's hard to say. – Slaidey 8 months ago
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      • That's a tough question to answer. I do think there is something irreplaceable about being able to physically hold something (such as a print book) that online sources just can't give you. At the same time, online sources are more accessible, reach a larger audience, are cheaper than print, and can be taken anywhere as long as you have digital access. I don't think print media will go away completely, but as it becomes more "outdated" I think it will become more of a collector's item like vinyl records - not used as often, but something people like to hold on to as a work of art. – fhlloyd 8 months ago
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      • A printer technician is working for his or her expertise in maintaining the proper operation of pressure equipment in a commercial facility. These people are part of a company's maintenance department and usually report all manager's instructions and follow them. These printer technicians often have to undergo professional training to familiarize themselves with the company's operations. – chrissamson 4 months ago
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      • The term or expression "print media" seems quite broad addressing daily newspapers as well as books and therefore book stores. Too broad a term makes it difficult to focus on specifics, which I think is needed to address this issue in a thoughtful way. – Joseph Cernik 4 months ago
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      • Terrifying question to anyone who loves literature/reading, but a good one. I think it'll stay around yes, but with time it'll most likely make a shift to a "vintage" sort of aesthetic rather than what it is today. I think it'll be a large aspect of any reader's life regardless because well having the physical book is different than an e-book, but when it comes to industry, it'll definitely change. There is a Forbes article titled "The Barnes and Nobles Buyout: A Godsend For Book Readers And Investors" where it talks about B&N barely being saved from bankruptcy. It's definitely a frightening time for the publishing industry indeed. – Scharina 3 months ago
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      Unnecessary Articles In Journalism

      Have you ever read a headline while reading the news, whether it’s considered a serious platform or not, where you truly question why someone would write a whole article dedicated to something so trivial? How is it possible today to see two articles side by side about two drastically different subjects like "Baby Found Amongst Rubble in Syria" right next to "Will Selena Gomez Ever Wear a Bra Again"? I understand that the world can’t always focus on the negative aspects of life all the time but shouldn’t we start to question how nitpicking an famous individual is a better news alternative?

      • I feel that "unnecessary" might be a bit subjective. I could be wrong, but it feels more like you want to critique the online news cycle and clickbait, as compared to print journalism standards. Some questions that could be asked: Who writes clickbait? Why is there a prevalence of clickbait articles on the internet? How has internet journalism changed which topics are highlighted by news websites? How has ad revenue impacted headline choices? And how do algorithms give very different headlines equal standing on any given website? – Eden 6 months ago
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      • I think it could be useful to explore where we draw the line between "Buzzfeed journalism" and "New York Times journalism" (for example). Are either one of these less legitimate than the other? In a world where SEM and SEO increasingly rule, and newsrooms are shrinking, which urge wins-- the urge to write material of quality and truth and intellect, or the urge to actually get people to read it and make a little money off of it? Is there a way to combine both? – haileyscomet 3 months ago
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      • Celebrity gossip is unnecessary. Who cares if the dress is black or white (or whatever it was) or who has broken up with whom? On the other hand, it would be nice to see more articles about a hobby or genre of music or something. Interesting, but not stupid. – OkaNaimo0819 2 months ago
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      The Male Muse

      A muse has traditionally, and generally, been seen as female. She may come from any walk of life and need not be a ‘beauty’ in the classical sense, for it that elusive, almost undefined quality that inspires the creative male mind – but what of the male muse inspiring female creativity? For the Mexican painter, Frida Khalo (1907-1954), her husband was her muse, despite their often turbulent relationship. More recently the American photographer, Sally Mann has spent over forty years photographing her husband going about his daily life. The Dutch artist, Rineka Dijkstra finds inspiration in photographing her son as he grows into a young man, whilst the British filmmaker, Sam Taylor-Johnson describes her husband, Aaron as both her muse and soulmate.

      Familial, romantic and/or sexual relationships aside – do creative women regard their male muses any differently from how creative males regard female muses? By extension – what does a creative woman look for in her male muse? By citing examples from history (both ancient and modern) examine how creative women have found and been inspired by their male muses.

      • Wonderful topic! And I'm very curious about which examples might be pulled to support this topic. I would like to remind you however that this is a little heteronormative--what about women with a female muse, and men with a male muse? Not even in a romantic sense, but maybe as a comparison for the male/female dynamic. I'm thinking of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West for example. No need to expand beyond heterosexual muse relationships but just a thought! – Eden 4 months ago
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      • Someone may run with this topic in any way he or she wishes :) – Amyus 4 months ago
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