Saturday, April 23, 2011

A to Z Challenge: Time

Time has a significant effect on the running of my story. There are two story lines running through almost to the end - and they run more or less parallel. 

But, I've never needed to write: "Meanwhile, back at the castle...."

In fact, I can't. I don't have a narrator. Perhaps I was stupid to decide against one, but as it happens, I like walking around almost in the characters shoes without some omniscient voice spoiling my tension for me. So... how do I manage it?

Easy. I don't focus on the time aspect. Things are happening here. Other things are happening somewhere else. Even though the timing is important to the story making sense, it's not as important as the fact that things are happening. So I focus on the what more than on the when. 

In my mind, I also jump between story lines on a roughly day by day basis. So if nothing's happening to Callan on day ten, I'll hop over to James. Odds are that he has something going on.Whether the reader will read this, though, I have no idea. 

So how do you manage time and timing in your WiP?


  1. Currently I have no issues with time because all my characters are in the same place and I only have one point of view. But later, there will be an instance of one extra pov, and then some recurrences of another when the characters split up. (Totalling to 3 povs, but they're only really 2 at a time and split up by chapters.)
    Mostly I think I will continue along the same thread of time, rather than go back and cover a section of time again from a different point of view. Since there is a lot of travelling "necessary" in the world, what this really means is that I can effectively cut the travelling sections out of the book and while one group of characters is "travelling", I jump to a different point of view where something very important is happening. Then I can juggle back and forth between the characters.

  2. Hi Misha, I always write 1st person, so it's easy, I don't have too much happening off screen, and that makes for immediate action, what children enjoy.

  3. Hi Misha,

    Wow, what a great blog you have! I am your newest follower.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello, and have a great week!

    Kathy M.

  4. The same way you do. When I was in college and had to take Philosophy the professor asked the famous line. "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any sound?" What a stupid question. Of course it does.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

  5. Hi Misha. While preparing to write my first book, I toyed with the idea of what style to take with the timing. In the end I did first person, and think I might take it the next step in the second one. Nice Blog!

  6. Like you Misha my WIP has two storylines running parallel. They are happening at the same time, but like you I don't add in "meanwhile" or "at the same time". It just happens. Let's see if we don't confuse the hell out of our readers? :) Hey! I'll read yours if you'll read mine LOL

  7. The story I'm writing has at least two storylines running at the same time throughout the book--I usually end up switching between the two as well. It's happened that I've had to flip back to before a scene I've already written, though, and to prevent from saying "Meanwhile" or "at X" I'll add a time/date above the passage.

  8. I stink at timing. Maybe your idea works best.

    Thanks for your sweet comment on My Blog

  9. Misha I don't know if you saw my earlier comment about the details of your book. If not, will you please give me the book title? I'd like to get a hold of it.

  10. Wait, your book is available to buy? Or am I just misreading Wendy's comment above.

  11. I make timelines. :D I don't do omniscient POV, either--I like to be in my characters' heads. If I have multiple storylines, I make timelines to show what people are doing on certain days, so I know where to write scenes, and so I know what each character should or shouldn't know by a certain day.

  12. Nice interesting post....mine is a series of short stories interrelated so the timelines happen over a century and hopefully don't clash...

  13. Interesting. When I write a first draft, my mind has to know what happens in chronological order. Then with revisions I go back and cut and dice.

    I'm curious how you've pulled it off with no narrator. SOunds really cool!

  14. Cool that you wrote about time and timing, too. You have to schedule it in, and stick to it. It's the only way. Setting goals helps. Having a writing pal to go to, or some other creative type, to help you through the rough patches, is also important.

  15. Great blog!
    I'm a bit of a nerd, so I make spreadsheets for just about everything. I find it helps me keep track of everything from future to current, to previous action. Every few chapters I stop and compare and either adjust the timeline or the story.

  16. My stories ususing take place within a short about of time, so I usually can "add in" actual timing when I go to edit. :)

  17. Ryan, I do that too. I only jump POVs if there's something to be revealed from the other perspective (when the characters are together). When my characters are split, I jump a bit more often.

    Carole, that's why Doorways is in 3rd person limited. I had to strike a balance between keeping tension going while taking into account that hundreds of things are happening back-stage.

    Thanks for the lovely complement and the follow, Kathy. :-D

    Hehehe Nancy, I always answer the same. The real question for me is whether or not the felling of that tree will have an effect on someone. In Doorways, it would. ^_^

    Thanks Amy! I've always written in 3rd person, because I used to read plenty of 3rd person books. It's only when I started Doorways that I limited the knowledge of the POV characters. It had a huge effect on my style.

    LOL Lauracea. Let me know if you're up to it. ^_^

    Golden, I've considered doing the same thing, but ended up deciding against it. I sort of like leaving it to the reader to work it out. ^_^

    Pleasure Catherine! Thanks for the follow-back! :-)

    That's so kind of you, Wendy, but I'm just about to go into edits, so my book is still faaaaar from being available.

    Michael, you didn't misread, but no, my book isn't available yet.

    Laura, that's a great way to do it. I tend to keep it in my head. By some miracle, I'm pretty sure I remain unconfused.

    Rekha, that sounds like an interesting concept. I actually have a similar story idea going in the back of my head, but don't know if I'll end up doing it. It's close to another story that I've already started.

    PK, it was very interesting in my first draft, when a lot was unfamiliar to me. But now it became easier because I'm so familiar with everyone's voice. I just hope that it comes through in my writing.

    Mary, I wake up at 05:30 every morning except holidays and Sundays just so that I can get some writing in.

    Mickey, I haven't done that. Should have, though. I'm thinking of drawing up notes on everything when I'm doing the reread before edits.

    Jennifer, that sounds like a great way to do it. I'm stuck with (at least) two main story-lines taking place over about four weeks. And that's just Book 1. I expect Book 2 will have a much larger scope (and will happen over a longer period of time).


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