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Old 11-14-2011, 01:44 AM   #1
Steve Colle
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VISUAL STORYTELLING: Flashbacks, Flash Forwards, and Dream Sequences

As this is going to be in the How-To book, and seeing as how this question was brought up here recently, I'm going to present to you ways of conveying Flashbacks, Flash Forwards, and Dream Sequences.

The options for maximizing the visual effect of the FB, FF, and DS can be broken down into four categories:

1) The Images - Content
2) The Images - Presentation
3) The Panel Borders
4) The Gutters

The Images - Content

- Making visible and obvious changes to setting and style of dress (such as New York City in the present FB-ing to NYC of the 40's during WWII or DS-ing to a situation of being followed into a dark alley in old London) can make the transition easier to follow by making the setting clearly distinguishable from the present.

The Images - Presentation

There are seven ways to differentiate the present from the FB/FF/DS:

1 - Use a different artist.
2 - Use the same artist, but a different art style.
3 - Use a different medium (pencil and ink to watercolor, pencil crayon, etc.).
4 - Use a more or less detailed art style.
5 - Use more or less detail with regards to content, making the frame fuller or emptier vis a vis surroundings.
6 - Fade the art.
7 - Switch from color to B/W or use a color that is completely distinguishable from the "norm" of the present.

The Panel Borders

There are six panel framing styles or types:

1) Standard - square or rectangular shapes.
2) Designed/Geometric - circles, triangles, parallelograms, rhomboids, pentagons, stars, keyhole shape, etc.
3) Expressive - symbolizes the emotion of the characters to accentuate their feelings in their given situation, such as using the "squiggly" lines around a character to represent shock or surprise.
4) Aspect - using part of the setting as a literal framing device, such as a cave entrance, the archway at a wedding, a door frame in a house, etc.
5) 3-D - the panel borders represent the foreground (when part of the body/prop is cut off) and/or the background, creating the effect of "escaping the panel".
6) Borderless - no framing device, permitting the actions and setting to exist beyond the walls of the frame as it "bleeds" off the page, also allowing time to move forward without the restrictions of set cuts caused by the confines of a time restraining border shape.

The Gutters

There are two ways of showing a difference from the present with regards to gutters:

1) Manipulate the width of the gutters (this is usually used to play around with timing and the passage of time, but can also be used effectively if the technique has not been used elsewhere in the book during present-tense scenes).
2) Fill the gutters with color(s) which is/are distinctive from present-tense usage.

So, as you can see, there are a myriad of techniques that can be used independently or in conjunction with one another to get the point across that this isn't the present or woken state.

Thanks for reading.

Every good story must accomplish two goals: Convey information effectively and incite an emotional response. If one or both of these are lacking, the story won't keep the attention of your audience.
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