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Do you just put it like

Prologue Present Day

And then Chapter 1 Chapter Title 5 Months Earlier

Or am I missing something?

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  • What do they do in books you've read that do this? Apr 7, 2021 at 7:48
  • It's quite common in Television that an episode of a scripted show will start In Media Res in the opening, often showing a shocking cliffhanger then backtrack by several hours to the start of the story and explain the events that lead to this point and the resolution of the scene opener.
    – hszmv
    Apr 7, 2021 at 11:49
  • I actually had a precognitive character have a vision of the future. The story thus never technically 'flashed back.' Having the out-of-frame event from a different perspective helps too. Openly saying the time frame is unsubtle, but I'm finding people don't appreciate subtlety as much as I do.
    – DWKraus
    Apr 7, 2021 at 14:17
  • One term for what you're thinking about is "flash forward". literaryterms.net/flash-forward
    – Erk
    Apr 8, 2021 at 4:21

1 Answer 1

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You can do it explicitly like you stated or ....

Another method is to incorporate a unique setting and event in both. For instance, the Prologue happens on Bilbo's One Hundred and Eleventeenth birthday and in the first chapter they are planning Bilbo's One Hundred and Eleventeenth birthday party.

The benefit of this method is it builds engagement bevause the reader is arranging the story elements chronologically themselves.

Similar examples, in Prologue, the Challenger or the Columbia disaster is live on television. Then Chapter 1 has first launch of Space Shuttle referenced. The reader puts things together for you without clumsy and boring exposition. Admittedly, this is not 5 months apart, but its an example, for illustration purposes -- disclaimer needed for all those middle children that need to quibble of details and not see the bigger idea being presented.

The linking moments doesn't have to be directly part of both stories, they can chronological -- like Christmas 1942 then the previous 4th of July. Or they can be deeply involved like the Prologue is the Seven Days War and the first chapter is Generals planning thier attack.

The linking event is chosen so it doesn't feel obviously forced, it should feel natural to the story and the characters or other events.

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