1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A story that lasts a year

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Elgaisma, Dec 8, 2010.

    My previous stories have pretty much been over a few weeks. I want this one to last a year. How do you show the movement overtime of such a long time. I know I can do milestones and seasons but any other tips about showing it and also keeping track?
     
  2. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    I have a dozen or so characters stretched over several years and I just use a calendar to keep up with what's going on. I have a lot of traveling taking place with some characters and I'm very aware of distances and times taken, and roughly what other characters will be doing in that spanse of time even if they aren't brought up in the story or just sitting in one place.

    Three days of travel for this guy means three days of school for this guy means three days of meetings for this guy means three days of combat for this guy, even though I'm only describing some portion of the travel and some portion of the combat.

    I guess I'm making sure every character is living their life each day, and then it's all in my transitions. I'll describe a scene with an engineer meeting with his team to tell them they have three weeks to complete some project. Switch over to the high school student who says the last week of school was hell for him. Switch over to the pilot who's getting engaged, an event I earlier described as happening two weeks later. Switch and switch until the engineer is back, being asked if he'll be ready to present tomorrow. Everyone is living their life according to a physical timeline whether or not I'm actually describing every event.
     
  3. sereda008
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    sereda008 Senior Member

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    Read harry potter. I doubt there is a better way to learn than to dissect such a book.
     
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  4. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Depends how creative you want to be. Think outside the box. For example (weird idea here) use the lenght of the characters hair or growing a beard or something to gauge it. Early in the story establish this character is growing facial hair or has short hair and use this as the yardstick throughout the story. It could be an interesting way to show time especially as I doubt your fantasy books have Christmas, Easter etc, though they may have seasons. At start of story mention a clean shaven character and later on very subtly mention their neat beard and later the long scraggly beard etc.

    The Harry Potter stories nearly always include a "Winter chapter" where the author talks about Christmas. And they all start in July and finish around May or June. Its very handy as you can measure it easily.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am struggling because they only sort of have seasons the weather is quite temperate on the Island and doesn't really fluctuate and the planet doesn't rotate. It is also not set in a school (well not one with terms) - I could give them easter and christmas.
     
  6. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Your story opens on the protagonists birthday doesn't it. I'm guessing the climax will take place on his birthday too? (You've said it lasts a year and he has a cursed birthday). Why not introduce a half-birthday celebration. The day that is furthest away from his own birthday. This is the day he loves to celebrate as his own birthday causes him trouble. What do you think.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ooh that is a plan - there could actual be a state occasion - then the other six months the repair. Like that idea.
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    One important thing to keep in mind - don't act like you need to have the entire course of the year covered - in other words, don't just have "filler scenes" to show time passing. Read Harry Potter, as Sereda said. Another book that's great at the long time spans is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - it covers a 3-year time span and sometimes several months have gone by between two scenes.

    Some ways to show that time's gone by without trying too hard and thus boring the readers:

    1. Deadlines, things coming up, etc, then show them come to pass. For example, your MC could be worried about running into an antag at a meeting/party/conference/etc...mention in passing a few times what date that event's on..then show it come to pass. The reader will know that time has obviously lapsed to get us to this point.

    2. Mention it in passing, but don't ever info-dump it. For example, you could say "Angus was surprised to see a few age lines on Soc's face. Soc wasn't anywhere near being old; but Angus figured the three months of stressful work must have taken a toll since the last time he'd seen him." Then we know 3 months have gone by. Just don't do "Three months had passed since...etc etc etc."

    3. You've gotta be careful with this one because it will be super cliche and annoying if done wrong. The weather. Don't begin a chapter with "Winter had come, and the streets were now frosty with snow" or anything to that effect. What you CAN do is just subtly mention it as part of the setting. When we first meet the MC, he could be dripping with sweat and freaking out about being gross already after only a short walk to work. Without info dumping, we can figure out it's summer. Later, mention in passing the sky getting darker earlier, fall leaves, biting cold, etc. Readers are smart they'll figure it out!

    Hope I helped!
     
  9. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Well regardless of what you go for I will advise you strongly to steer away from Christmas, Easter etc. The story doesn't lend itself to it. I think the half-birthday celebration is right up Soc's alley personally. By the way I read your re-write. I prefer it. My only concern is that Soc goes from talking about his dead lover to telling Fy that he wants to kiss him, so quickly that either his grief for Nate or his longing for Fy just seem a little insincere.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wonders if she should tell Mallory, Angus isn't around in this one :) Seriously that is very useful thank you.

    Actually as well as the local religion there were Christian Pilgrims however they were puritans (Hence Fly Fornication Brown)
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Oh yea I forgot. It's about Soc and the kids. :)
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have had some serious complaints about killing Angus lol - he died aged 97 day after Bea it is on here.
     
  13. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Oh my! I did not know that! I bet it was a hard scene for you to write.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wrote it March last year - it is on I think page 3 under fantasy. Glad I did it now lol it allowed me to show people what had happened to him.

    It was so Angus it was just perfect ending for him that I didn't feel bad at all. I wrote it before I rewrote the book though.
     
  15. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Life goes on over time. You could try presenting some of the evolving events of the lives of background characters as benchmarks for the passage of time in your story. It doesn't have to be anything prominent, but something that would happen in actual life that denotes the passing of time.

    Just a few suggestions for time passing:

    The old black smith, who has worked with the characters, finally packs it in and retires, with someone new taking over the smithy.

    The young sweethearts in the early stages of the story finally tie the knot and get married.

    Old man Jackson's heart finally gave out on him and he passed away in the night.

    A fire destroys the home of a recurring family, leaving them displaced.

    The nice couple that were expecting down the street finally has their baby.

    New folks move into town.

    Old faces pack up and move out of town.

    Local tavern is under new ownership in mid-story, with a spiffy new sign and a sale on drinks.

    A horrible disease leaves one of the recurring, formerly prominent villagers blink.

    The old recurring villain who shows up now and again.

    A recurring character develops arthritis and constantly bitches about "getting too old for this crap".

    Instead of describing the changing season directly, just have some of the background characters chatting about "the upcoming harvest" or "planting season is almost upon us".

    Kids leave for/return from boarding school.


    Just a few suggestions :)
     

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