Consistent large time gaps between scenes and chapters? Does it make sense, and how do you insure that there's some kind of flow. Is it a bad thing if several scenes and chapters could be swapped with one another especially in the beginning of the novel? I am trying to understand how to insure a strong flow between chapters especially if the time gaps are large.

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I guess you have a situation where you have a lot of exposition and want to show different scenes at different points in time that aren't closely connected. (Not sure what exactly, but in a family drama you might want to show different ancestors meeting and marrying; or in a military drama show previous victories, defeats, making of alliances, on both sides.) This can be a problem, because the reader doesn't have a plot or necessarily characters that are common across all scenes. The key thing is to try and bring out commonalities, and set up the rest of the novel's events, characters, and themes, rather than it being a bunch of isolated scenes.

Try and link the scenes by including common elements. For instance you can have a kind of foreshadowing where everybody across disparate scenes always mentions the same unseen character or future event. This links them together and helps you set up future events and add an element of suspense. It might also reduce the need for separate exposition scenes. Even if you can't link through a character or event, you could bring up a common theme (e.g. all of them mention the same topic), which would link the scenes, set up themes for the rest of the novel, and allow readers to compare and contrast characters.

You can also link scenes stylistically or through extraneous details and parallelism, for instance having one scene end with a rainstorm starting and the next unrelated scene in a rainstorm, or showing different characters all doing the same mundane thing (riding, dancing...). This can appear contrived, but if done well can provide a flow and set up a dialog between scenes.

But do consider starting later in time, moving straight to the action and starting in the middle of things, leaving some exposition until later or dropping it entirely. A lot of writers (even famous ones) aren't good at getting the right amount of exposition. It's often better to fill in the blanks as you go (maybe via flashbacks) rather than setting it all up at the start. And it's possible to use shorthand to avoid a lot of exposition - especially if it's a genre convention or a bit of a cliche.

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