1. FinishingFlight
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    FinishingFlight Member

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    Techniques for Time Lapse

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by FinishingFlight, Feb 2, 2013.

    I tried looking through the older posts to find a post on this, but couldn't find one. Sorry if this has been asked before.

    A major thing I stumble across is creating a smooth time lapse. Either if this is from a jump over unimportant tasks (Traveling, long silences, characters doing mundane tasks) to a more important task. Ex: Character is verbally fighting with side character. They fight until they get into a car for a road trip, don't talk for the 8 hour drive and it is not until they get into the hotel do they begin to resolve their fight. I would like to portray the tension and awkwardness of a silence, but am not too sure how to approach it.

    Another is a long time lapse, lets say months. Typically I would break this up by creating a new chapter. Trying figuring out how to wrap up the previous chapter, and then introduce the time lapse at the beginning of the next chapter...is something baffles me. I'm a bit of an aloof reader, and don't notice any patterns in reading but can note the smooth traveling over the time jump. Over reading my own work it appears to be confusing and choppy.

    Does anyone have any tips and tricks for this? I'm sure I will branch off to get my own style of doing such things, but I feel I'm lacking the basic understanding first. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    If you want to use it as a new chapter I would stay how many months have passed. For example:

    Chapter 10

    Six Months Later



    I think it would be best to do a sentence or two that would sum up the time lapse to help tie things together. Hope this helps.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I can't think of too many novels that don't have time skipped between scenes. Pick up a novel and see how the author does it. Look at several novels.

    There isn't only one method, there are many. Instead having us describe them, why not just see them in action.
     
  4. FinishingFlight
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    FinishingFlight Member

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    Megan, thank you for the response. I have at least a general understanding of that, but find that I'm not a big fan of being that blunt with the time passing. Maybe like Cogito said I just have to do my own research and find what I like and what I don't like.

    I have a hard time seeing details when I read. I read fast and tend to pick up the feeling more than the literary devices and structure. I guess having a thorough rereading if some of my favorites are in order.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There is definitely a difference in reading for pleasure and reading to critique. And that's really what you need to do. For me, the latter takes longer and often requires some note taking. But you have the advantage of knowing what you are looking for.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my best advice is to follow cog and ed's...
     
  7. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    About five or six years after the Vietnam War ended, I saw some movie about guys who were about to be sent to Southeast Asia. The first few scenes showed them in their local communities. The plot told us that they were going to be sent into combat.

    I expected the stereotypical scenes of boot-camp. But instead, the next scene showed Huey gunships flying over the tree tops in country.

    There was no transitional scene.

    I found it didn't matter. The story unfolded seamlessly.
     
  8. FinishingFlight
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    FinishingFlight Member

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    Sounds like I have some work to do then. Time to pull out the sticky notes and some pens. Thank you everyone.
     
  9. primalpeace
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    primalpeace Member

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    From what I have seen in other novels and my own writing, it is best to just do something such as: (Note: this is based on what you said and is in first person, her is just the other person in the fight.) "As the hours passed on by, the feeling of being with her has not resided. The awkwardness of the trip went on for hours on end until we reached our destination. The feeling of the awkwardness between us began to reside."

    Just know I am not that good of a writer either, but something along those lines works.
     
  10. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    A good technique to describe what doesn't happen is to focus on the things that do happen, and to make the stretch of time palpable you can use the repetition of details, especially if you can make use of metaphors to mirror the characters' inner conflicts.

    She stared at the road ahead, mentally counting down the miles to their destination. Every hour or so Rihanna's 'Diamonds' would blare, tinny and sickly sweet, out of the radio speakers. Time and time again she turned her head to the passenger window, to hide the moistness in her eyes, until the song was replaced by something less sweet and meaningful. She hated that song. Every so often he would clear his throat, as if to say something, but she didn't give him the satisfaction of looking at him. Coward. She would to let him stew in misery just like she did herself. The car slowed down, another interchangeable town, white and pastel rose walls of one-story houses that had seen their best times twenty years ago, and she counted down from thirty. She had reached one when they sped up again. Almost. He cleared his throat again. Two hundered miles left, and perhaps ten minutes to Rihanna's next performance. Her jaw clenched and her eyes glued themselves to the license plate of the rusty transporter in front of them.

    You don't need to wrap up too much, though some hint of closure for the chapter (waving goodbye, falling asleep etc.) doesn't hurt, to give your reader the impression that some kind of time or location change is about to happen. Make sure to lay out the time lapse in the first paragraph of the following chapter to keep the reader from getting confused. Try to find a strong image that illustrates that time has passed, like a change of season or a different work environment. Or, if you want your writing to get a bit of the old crime noir feeling, you can describe the things that have gotten gradually worse, like dirt accumulating on the windows, rickety chairs slowly falling apart or a coffee dispenser (still in use in the last chapter) now having been out of commission for months and forcing your main character to drink fruit tea which he/she abhors. A good time lapse is one that reflects your characters' development, or illustrates their lack of those.
     
  11. FinishingFlight
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    FinishingFlight Member

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    What a great way to create a jump in time while developing more to it. I always worry about, starting to add in unimportant filler. I guess it would be easier to remove that later then to spend half my time trying to figure out who to move on.

    The wanting a closing may be my way of over thinking it then. I find it so hard to read my own writing and feel like everything flows and makes sense. As we all tend to be harsh critics on ourselves. The rest you mentioned is all stuff I had not really though about before, but flows a lot better than just bluntly informing the reader that time has passed. I really do want to show and not tell, and that lays it out very well. Thank you very much, what you wrote is very helpful.
     
  12. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    My ideal way is usually at the start of a new chapter.

    Say the story left off in like June of that year. Start the next chapter with something like:

    "The months rolled by with so and so happening. September arrived with cooler weather and x and y happening."

    I guess you could call this a summary style. All of a sudden you're at December. That's how I like doing it, anyway. That's for long breaks obviously. Other than that, the boys up there are right in learning from other writers.
     
  13. Tazoe
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    Tazoe New Member

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    Even though I didn't ask the original question, I want to say thanks to BitPoet. I have often read that kind of time passing passage, but never really noticed it for what it was. Consequently, I never thought to use it in my own writing. I'm always amazed at how much we can appreciate something without ever giving it the credit that's due. Thank you for peaking my awareness.
     

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