Tags:
  1. BEyre
    Offline

    BEyre Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    North Carolina

    Time-Date Stamp Suspense Device

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BEyre, Apr 6, 2011.

    I am at the beginning stages of writing a murder mystery/police procedural novel. I have my overall plot and sub-plots clarified. I have created my main and supporting main characters (and a few minor characters that I thought of off the bat). Now I am at the point of outline/mapping out each chapter.

    For those who read these types of novels (or watch TV shows/movies) ... has the Time/Date stamp feature been done to death? Law and Order franchise is famous for doing the stamp ... their version of chapters I suppose. But, does it add suspense in and of itself? Or has it been erroneously used too many times to be an effective device?

    Before anyone asks, I believe my story will carry just fine with or without the date/time stamp. But if many like that added "feature", then I need to start adding that to the first draft so I get the time line down pat from the beginning.
     
  2. K.S.A.
    Offline

    K.S.A. Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    On a little lost island called Atlantis
    I don't think too many people have tried a time-stamp in a novel, unless you consider graphic novels. Date-stamp maybe, especially if it has elements of a diary in it. Thing is though, the time-stamp in a TV series is usually accompanied by equally interesting sfx - that's what gives it that eerie edge. Don't think it would really work in a general novel format i.e. if you don't write like Frank Miller.
     
  3. Mr. Blue Dot
    Offline

    Mr. Blue Dot Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Washington
    I don't think it would be detrimental, but honestly, if I know roughly when the story is taking place my eyes tend to skip over exact dates and times. I can tell if it's day or night time from the authors descriptions, and that's about as specific as I need really.
     
  4. BEyre
    Offline

    BEyre Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thanks for both your insights.

    I've been trying to come up with circumstances where the date/time stamp device would be best utilized and the only scenarios I can think of would be if there was a countdown (ie, you have 10 hours to find the hostage or else he dies) -- that sort of thing. Which then implies a sense of urgency.

    Thus far, I do not see my story having THAT much urgency.
    One, the body is dead ... *grins*
    But two ... well, that would give away another part of the plot *waggles eyebrows*

    Ok, I think I've talked myself out of using this device.

    But it does open the discussion on when/how to best utilize such a device in novels of various genres.
     
  5. Mr. Blue Dot
    Offline

    Mr. Blue Dot Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Washington
    Just my opinion, but this is the best way for this device to be used. In The Watchmen for example has the "countdown to midnight" that would show up in the news, and tell how close the story is to the nuclear annihilation event at the end.

    But now that I think of it, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson used date stamps. The story involved 3 generations of people living at different points between world war 2 and present day, and when the story switched view points to a character in the past or future it would be proceeded with a date stamp to let you know that this part of the story is in WW2, this part is in modern day Philipines, ect. It's a great book by the way, if you haven't read it :)
     
  6. K.S.A.
    Offline

    K.S.A. Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    On a little lost island called Atlantis
    Oooh yes. Another person who uses this device to great effect is Amy Tan - The Joy Luck club was a favourite of mine when I was younger. Two thumbs up, I'd say! But these are more like storytelling over a long periods of time. Definitely wouldn't work unless the situations were similar.
     
  7. AwesomeTingle
    Offline

    AwesomeTingle Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't think it would make that big of a difference. In some novels I've read they do have little stamp graphic headings at the top of the chapter, saying the date. Unless the book is going to have little graphics throughout, don't do it. I don't think it adds suspense, and I don't think it really adds that much to the novel at all. But that is just my opinon!
    Hope this helps!
     
  8. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    I am using a date/location stamp in my current project. However, I don't think it really adds any suspense, since nobody really knows exactly whether there is a deadline, or when it is.
     

Share This Page