1. writingchick8
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    writingchick8 Member

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    Dates and Ages

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by writingchick8, Jun 17, 2010.

    I'm working on a novel right now (I'm sure you all know that) and I have a question about dates and ages.

    Rather than just having the character tell what happened in the past, I'm making the past of the characters part of the story, the introduction I suppose. I was writing down the date and ages of the character and what happened on that day, but it's turned into me writing down every single date in the story, and now I'm not sure how to add it in.

    I know I could put the dates at the beginning of each chapter/section/whatever, but what about ages? At the beginning the ages sort of jump around, like going from age 8 to 10 to 14 and so on, so I need the ages to be known to make more sense, but later on in the story it's pretty constant. Could I put the ages at the beginning of the section with the date, or does that seem like a bad idea?

    Sorry if I just really confused you!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd work ages in rather than dates, and only when the age is necessary for the reader to know.

    For instance, knowing he was five years olf might be important if it later relates to something else that happened when he was five years old. But the next period you jump to, it may only be necessary foir the reader to know he was in elementary school, rather than whether he was seven, eight, or nine years old.

    Furthermore, if your character's adulthood is more or less in present time. you're probably better off not locking down ages to specific calendar years.
     
  3. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    I was recently, and by recent I mean on Tuesday, advised against putting the time and date at the beginning of my 'chapters' because it made my story appear as if it were a thriller or like the show 24. Ya know how each episode is centred around a period of time. Having said that I've also found that keeping track of times and dates are killing me, everything my characters are doing is being governed by timelines. Unfortunately now I have to try and break my habit and come up with a better solution. Anyway that’s just my experience with dates so if I were you I’d stick with ages it could prove a lot easier to keep track of.
    Hope that helps :)
     
  4. jeanne
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    jeanne Member

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    I think tell the reader your character's age on the headline is not good idea. It will make your story looked weird. You should add some stuff that tell his/her age without really tell it. Date is quite good but it will set fixed time frame to your story - you know, timelessness has benefit to some story. However, if your story fit with fixed time frame I would suggest using date.
     
  5. writingchick8
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    writingchick8 Member

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    Thanks so much!

    I was thinking maybe for the introductory chapter where the ages honestly are kinda important, because people in the 1600s didn't really go to elementary school, etc. I could put the dates at the beginning and then work the ages in and then when the actual story starts, put one date at the first chapter, and then do the story without a timeline so it can be more "free" and maybe at the last chapter put in the ending date.

    Does that sound ok?
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds both boring and confusing...
     

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