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  1. radkovelli

    radkovelli Member

    Oct 12, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Adding the date to chapters?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by radkovelli, Jul 14, 2016.

    My story takes place in three days after my main character is kidnapped. I wanted to add in italics throughout the story different times and dates for eeriness. For example, when he's taken in chapter one, it has the November 20, 2006 and 6:23PM at the top of the page. My character doesn't know this information.

    My only concern is if it's okay to do this and have the story be in first person POV. Since my character wouldn't know the time, do you think it's confusing to a reader as to why it'd have that at the top of the page and then go into a story where the character mentions he has no clue what time it is? These little notes and the story are separate, do you think simply having it in italics differentiates that enough?

    Thank you!
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Jun 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    SC, USA
    I don't think that would be confusing. I mean, the character isn't assumed to be aware of chapter number or titles or anything like that - I'd have faith in readers to understand that things like that are for their convenience. Unless it's not only in 1p but written as a 'diary', where dating entries would actually be expected, I mean. Italics should be fine.
    radkovelli likes this.
  3. Myths

    Myths Member

    Feb 19, 2016
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    Bram Stoker did a very similar thing throughout Dracula, where he puts the date and whether it's morning, midday, or afternoon at the beginning of the relevant paragraphs. his was a diary style book but i think that you specifying dates and times is a great idea. It would really help with the spread of time with your story :)
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Aug 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    London, UK
    It's fine, IMO.

    It's one of my strange quirks as a reader that I never take in those dates and times. I don't deliberately ignore them, I just... skim over them automatically? This might be so rare that you don't need to worry but, for people like me, I always try to include timeline things in the text as well; reminding the reader how much time has passed since a previous event or whatever.
    zoupskim likes this.
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    I don't think that it would be confusing. However, are you sure that you want to take that sense of mystery away from the reader? Sometimes a story is more engrossing if the reader is as confused as the character.
  6. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

    Jan 1, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Manchester UK
    In Judea. AD 33. Saturday afternoon. At around tea time.

    ^ That one tickled me, still does*.

    Does your story say why he doesn't know that it's three days since he's been taken? I'd better understand any confusion setting in to the character if he's kept locked up, away from timepieces and daylight. Also, italics for thoughts (I think) is a wide assumption in writing nowadays; If you put dates inline in italics with a first person narrative it may be a bit confusing for the reader. Subheaders?

    Also, also, beyond your kidnap victim's clinging to the hope of rescue, I'd say that trying to guess length of his imprisonment ranks high in his thinking. It'd be interesting to read how his assumptions stray or stay with the true timeline.

    * you had to be there
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
  7. Johncrawfordz

    Johncrawfordz Member

    Oct 30, 2012
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    I see the concept of adding time generally is fine. However I do not agree with using it for what you are intending to do because the character's sense of time and the reader is at risk of being distorted and mixed up. It also brings a sense of omniscient viewpoint (unless you are intending for that) which could be positive or negative benefits (depending again on your intention).

    Hope this helps
    John Crawfordz
  8. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    May 8, 2014
    Likes Received:
    So, I write with date and time stamps not only at the beginning of the chapter but for scenes within chapters. I haven't eliminated them, but my experience is that most of my readers mentally skip over them and then bash me for not telling them that there was a time jump (seriously, I've had this same conversation a million times - READER: "This is confusing, I don't know if time has moved or not - and now it's night?." ME: "There's a big, bolded time stamp at the beginning of every scene." READER: "Oh, yeah, I ignore those and assume they aren't important".)

    So just be aware that this happens.

    I don't think first person makes a difference per se.
  9. ManOrAstroMan

    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

    May 8, 2012
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    I'm working on an urban fantasy mystery, and i tend to timestamp chapters, if not every scene.
    I'm doing this mostly to keep a sense of a ticking clock.
  10. laurasiren12

    laurasiren12 Member

    Jul 7, 2016
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    I put date stamps on my work but never time stamps but for a kidnapping story, go for it. It let's your reader know when and where it happened, the time etc and that can be helpful when building the story for them. They'd be able to picture everything in real time for example.

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