1. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway

    Time, place and date...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by spklvr, Jan 31, 2011.

    In a story I'm writing, there is a lot of switching between time and characters. They are separate stories that all come together at the end, which makes the constant switching necessary.

    To make it easier on the reader, I've been putting time, place and date before each switch. What I'm wondering is if there is a correct (or just preferred) way to do this.

    Example:
    London, England
    September 23. 1992
    11:30 am
     
  2. zaffy
    Offline

    zaffy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am reading Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which is written in a series of emails, diary entries, press comments and letters. At the top of each posted email, it has who the email is from, to, date, and folder. At the beginning of the press comments it has the title of the article and the date. The letters are headed with the address and date.
    Personally I am not that excited about it, but Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was a Richard and Judy summer read, making it a big seller.
    (information) Richard and Judy was a popular magazine programme.
     
  3. Sanz
    Offline

    Sanz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    I would probably show time, date or setting within the content of each scene or chapter, rather than tell it. Obviously, I don't know what you are writing about and where you want to go with the story. So my opinion may not be the correct answer to your question.

    I think most authors I have read that stamp a date and place, have done so to establish a particular time and space in history, present or future. But they only do it once or twice and that is about it.

    Unless these events are happening simultaneously in different locations, and it is vital to the story to stamp this information, then I would probably do it, although I would first try to establish it within the content of the chapter/scene rather that state it like a time stamp. Also, once the reader gets to know your characters, they will be able to know where they are.

    Again, this is just an opinion, feel free to disregard it if it doesn't work for your story. :)
     
  4. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    I usually prefer to do it that way as well, but as I tried it in this story, it just sounded extremely awkward most of the time, and it really confused my currently only reader. It just became much simpler for both me and her to just write the place and date, then get on with the story (seeing as I'd have to explain it in pretty much every single passage).
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    there's no 'correct' or 'preferred' way... just do whatever works best for your story and will not confuse or annoy the readers...
     
  6. lost123
    Offline

    lost123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    1
    Time and place always ruin the story.
     
  7. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    Care to elaborate?
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    I guess that's the thing about a timeless setting being more relatable to more readers, or stories not getting bogged down by modern politics where people still have agendas.

    Time and place don't seem to do much harm to best selling historical novels, nor travel literature, or other things where it's the marketing point.

    In literary work it's a half and half between strange locations made up to stand symbolically for society as a whole, often with retro technology, and things set very specifically in a place and the story being an analysis of the time and place as much as the characters. Either can work very well, so, in short, don't worry about that comment. :p If any single one thing is pulled off badly, it can be argued against. You may as well read a bad novel and say, "Characters always ruin a novel. Don't use them."
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    not 'always'!... some can and do use it to great advantage...
     
  10. jaywriting
    Offline

    jaywriting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    UK
    Perhaps I'm veering off topic here, but this did remind me of something. When I'm writing, I ask myself, does the reader NEED to know this piece of information for the story to work? If not, I'm inclined to remove it. I'm sure I still amass plenty of fluff in my work, but this criteria can help reduce it.

    I'm not saying this is the only way to write. Many well respected writers present a great deal of information and use a great many words to do so. But it is worth considering if you haven't developed a definite style you want to write in.
     
  11. lost123
    Offline

    lost123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    1
    Do you have any good story with time and place?And is it a best seller? :D
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    So just totally ignoring published works, then? :p
     
  13. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    Dracula springs to mind...

    I'm also copying the way Agatha Christie does this in one of her novels, but I can't remember if it was exactly the way she did it (and naturally I can't find the book, and I can't remember it's name even though it's my favorite Christie novel), which is why I was asking here.

    And also something weird, my grandfather's edition of Around the World in 80 days has time and place in it, but the edition I own doesn't...


    But anyway. There is a lot of going back and forth in time (from year 62 ((I've wasted 2 years of my life styding ancient, Asian and Inca history, if I don't put it to some use, I'll kill my professors)) 'til present time), and sometimes things are going on at the same time in different chapters. It's possible it could work without it, I'll look it over again once the first draft is completely done, but right now a partial reason why it's there is because I need to make sure I'm getting the time-line right.
     
  14. lost123
    Offline

    lost123 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    1
    It has to be a good writer who writes it and believe me till yet i ve never read a book that is perfect in timing, place..etc.
     
  15. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    I've read plenty of good books that relate the time and place to the reader in some manner or other. As mamamaia said, above, just do it in a manner that isn't annoying to the reader. I think a straightforward presentation like in your original post is just fine.
     
  16. Spacer
    Offline

    Spacer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward.
     
  17. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    global conspiracy and natural disaster thrillers often use the time/place method, since their settings are usually in various parts of the world and 'ticking down' to some major catastrophe/terrorist act is the focal point of the plot...
     

Share This Page