Alternating between the past and present?

I’m in the early planning stages of a new story, which will be (surprise, surprise) a fanfiction revolving around unrequited love.

I want to start the story with the main plot twist, and then alternate between before the plot twist (THEN) and after the plot twist (NOW), along with the main plot twist unfolding at the same time. The main plot twist is basically something being published that is telling the story of the before (THEN) as seen from one MC’s perspective. So basically the timeline of the chapters would go (1)NOW - (2)THEN - (3)PT1 - (4)NOW - (5)THEN - (6)PT2 - etc.

I’m struggling with writing the NOW without using what happens in the past (THEN), since it hasn’t been told yet, even though it happened. How do you make your characters live the present, that has been affected by the past, all the while revealing the past little by little? Any tips or things to do? Any things to avoid?

Have you tried only using trickles of what happened in the past to reflect the present.

So, for example, Chapter 2 mentions a number of things that could possibly be crucial, do you mention something about it in Chapter 3? Having small snippets of what it was like THEN, and how the MC reflects on it NOW, could be something that makes it easier for you.

Plus you can use foreshadowing a little about the MC knowing about whatever is in the past a little BEFORE the reader, so that it provides a little uncertainty of where the story is leading too (so like, a bit of mystery of sorts).

Not sure if this is helpful, but an idea that came to mind that could help with the process :slight_smile:


I have a story that I’m currently rewriting about a kid who is apart of experiment to make super humans- Anyways without giving to many plot points away a few chapters into the story she goes into the future by like 5 years and doesn’t realize it.

The way I show the past is by using characters around her to make up for her time- I don’t know if this will work for you but I have it shown in a more dramtic light where it’s more of a conversation. I’ve learned that some readers really really care about the past and some care about what’s happening now You have to find this like happy medium- If you wanted to do it that way.

But in the way you suggested with alternating chapters is also something I’ve been experimenting with but as much as it is a good idea you start to care more about one story over the other one- Or at least in my case I did. It becomes hard to write the present when you care about the past- Another option over that one is to Have the NOW be like a prologue/First Chapter/Whatever and then write the book from the past and have it meet up for that point.


I like that, I think it could work. Thanks :grin:

Hm interesting. I’d have to be really careful about that, because I want stuff to happen in the past and now too, so I’ll have to try and find a balance between both. I want to try doing the story similar now to in the past, if that makes sense. Thanks! :blush:

No problem. Glad I could help :wink:

1 Like