1. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    The Passage of Time

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Scavenger, Aug 20, 2007.

    Okay, this has been bothering me ever since I started work on my book. It's one book, divided up into three parts, though meant to be published all at once.

    However, the entirety of the plot spans about...25 years. And, not only that, but it's not a very consistent 25 years; for example, years 5-20 have almost nothing happening except a kid grows up. There are a few scenes in the development of the child that are important, but they're very spread out, and the majority of the action happens in years 1-5 and 20-25.

    So, I'm wondering if this is a huge mistake on my part. I know that I personally dislike inconsistency in plots, and I'm worried that having such large gaps of time when nothing is happening will mess up the entire thing. I also don't want to fill the gaps with fluff, because it would be superfluous and distracting.

    I'd appreciate any suggestions, if you have any.

    Thanks,
    Scavenger
     
  2. Laimtoe
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    Laimtoe Senior Member

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    I'm not so sure if I understand the formating, but I would keep away from having meaningless story as filler. That irritates readers more than inconsistancy. You don't want your readers to get irritated with the idea of reading things that aren't all too interesting.

    You might consider thinking of some of the more profound conversations you've had with people and reproduce them.

    One of the best ways to have these conversations is to have the main Character learn from other people rather than have your character be the man of authority... somehow you can add some sort of theme in with the moral of those profound conversations that fit in with the rest of the story.

    I don't know... Hope I helped out.
     
  3. jj3125
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    jj3125 Member

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    personally i find that large time lapses annoy me... but thats just me. i feel that large time lapses should only occur in between novels... unless of course the story is mapping the growing up of a child... then i think its ok.

    i dont know.. i guess i just think that time has an important part to play on the storyline... so that big empty time spaces should only be there for a damn good reason as the tend to split the book into sections... dunno if thats what you're aiming for... or if i've helped at all...

    i tend to write day to day... with only short time stops... so... yeah... i guess its different.
     
  4. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't know. This happened in the Bible, right? Jesus is born, next time you see him, he's 12, then he's 33. I have seen all sorts of storys within storys like this. I think that you should consider book ending it somehow--I think the dead zone by s.king had a large section devoted to john smith falling in a lake. Now that I think about it, I think there are quite a lot of "then/now" kinds of stories.
     
  5. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I personally hate large time gaps. I am reluctant to put huge gaps in my story, but I like novels which work with two-three time gaps, set out in a suspense sort of way. If you can add a bit of dark effect to the story and avoid unnecessary gibberish. Best wishes.
     
  6. wordweaver
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    wordweaver Member

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    I would have to see the whole thing in its entirety to see if it would work for me. I am having the same problem with my NIP.

    My prologue ( I hate pro's but it is very vital to understanding the nip) is actually the end of my proposed prequel. Chapter 1 & 2 are set in time of my mc's childhood (this is needed for knowing how she got in the situation...) and the following Chapter's flash forward thirteen years later... I'm still not sure if I'm really happy with it. ;)

    Anyhoo, to your question. ;) Would it be possible to keep your 1-5 yrs, flash forward to yrs 20-25, and use flash back thoughts to squeeze in the relevant years in between these times?

    Either way, I agree that consistancy and keeping the flow are key. :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't get what your problem is... why don't you just jump in time from the early years to the later ones?... it's done all the time... why do you think you have to have anything at all in between, if nothing significant happens?... you can always have the older character refer back to an event that needs to be mentioned, don't have to actually write it in that time frame...
     
  8. badgirl-250
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    badgirl-250 New Member

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    I think I understand what direction you're coming from, and I think I've read a few novels similar to your time lapse. My advice to you would be to make sure your reader understands that there is a lapse in time. It would be more preferable to explain what happened through that time lapse. For instance, if you are referring to a time period in which a child has spent his time growing up, then you would do something along these lines:

    It's been months since mom's death. I spend most of my time wallowing in my own misery. I'm older now, and dad says I've matured, but without mom, life feels empty. Over the course of these last few months, I've visited that stone grave too many times to count, but that's usually how I pass time.

    Do u get what I'm saying? I hope this helps, and if you're interested in time lapses crack open "Forged by Fire" by Sharon Draper or "New Moon" by Stephenie Meyers. Good Luck! Hope the advice helps!
     
  9. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    Maia, I'm worried mostly about inconsistencies in the formatting of it...I know that people jump in time a lot, but there were some specific events and so on that happened rather intermittently...and I'm just worried that it'll be too much time.

    That said, I've managed to work so that I'll get about a chapter in for every year that originally I would have been skipping, and managed to convince myself that these extra chapters are necessary for the characterization of the child growing up (which, in a way, they are, so I should be alright).

    A chapter a year seems about right. I'm now somewhat worried about length, but that shouldn't be too much of an issue.

    Thanks to everyone who responded!
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    imo, what you should be worried about is 'formatting' at all... the story should unfold naturally, with bits of relevant back story tossed in only when it seems to be needed, not on any regular schedule, as you seem to be planning... but it's your book...

    the main thing is that anything can work, if the writing is good enough... and nothing will, if it isn't...
     

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