1. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    How do you guys deal with passage of time?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Xboxlover, Sep 2, 2017.

    In my fantasy, I want to jump to important periods in my characters lives and not follow them every step of the way all the time. For example, it's important that I set my antagonists life up, we need to see the kind of family he grew up with, his various motivators growing up, education, then jump forward to him killing his parents and brother for power. (A very common thing when you think about it.) His family is kind and loving, his brother though younger he doesn't want to get in the way of his progress, he ultimately decides to kill his family at a certain point in his life. The events in his life leading up to his decision are important. The family set-up, his education, his quest for knowledge and power which consumes him. For some, this may seem to be a backstory issue, but this is all highly important because from a young age we see a very dangerous and intelligent young man prepare for world conquest. After succeeding the throne, he gathers certain powers and begins to siege the world almost immediately. These certain powers happen to be the protags in my story, at first being an antagonistic force before switching sides. I don't want to in media res this, I want to linear my story. In some of my works, I'm playing with in media res, but for this one, I will lose a lot of important information on politics and religious war that can be shown and not told. The story's arc would be gone if this was omitted. If I started in media res it would be during the war and the war would make no sense. The protag would kill the antag and it would be done with. It would lose a lot. Since the story focuses more on religion and politics as a whole and the characters are instruments of being used or using one another I can't afford to let anything go.

    How do you guys deal with time jumps in your story? I know some people use chapter headings as a way to show passage time. I think this would be good and be the most effective, but I was wondering if anybody else had different ideas. If I'm not mistaken time jumping in the middle of a chapter would be a huge no no.
     
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  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My chapter titles are character, age and date. My character's voice also changes in her younger years.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    It's actually very easy to do, and while explanatory chapter headings and titles are great to have, in my experience people who are caught up in your story often don't notice them. Or, more importantly, they don't remember what the last 'year' was, so this ploy doesn't orient them as much as you hope it will.

    Simply work the time jump into your first sentence or two. And tie it in directly to the last time we saw that character in play. Don't make your reader wonder when this is taking place, or who it's happening to. Don't make them backtrack to figure it out.

    Even if you let this information out three paragraphs down, the reader will have spent the first two paragraphs wondering 'what the heck' and NOT paying close attention to what is actually going on in the paragraphs they've just read. Orient the reader right away, and your story flow won't be interrrupted.

    The year Mason turned fourteen, he
    Jacob spent ten years learning to play the piano. During that time, he'd
    The next day, Jackie woke up with another severe headache.
    It was Sunday, the 24th of June, when Mark's cousin finally arrived.
     
  4. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    Thank you this is really helpful advice, I hadn't thought to do that. It kind of expands on the readers hook idea I read about. "On hooking your reader in the first sentences of the first chapter." And the other idea I'd read earlier today on ending in cliff hangers. Tactics baby! ^.^
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Don't forget what a hook is. It's not some clever statement designed to knock socks off the readers. Words that are so clever they will get framed and hung on the wall, or embroidered into a sampler. A hook is a statement that will make the reader want to keep reading.

    If you orient your reader firmly from the first sentence onward and make the situation you're writing about sound interesting, that's usually enough to 'hook' them. Don't forget those classic elements: who, when, what, where and ...especially ... why. If you can get them all worked into the first few sentences, the reader will be on board for the ride.

    A mistake I often see made by first-time writers is them thinking mystery and/or confusion at the start of a book is the key to 'intriguing' the reader. Confusion will make readers keep reading to solve the mystery of what is taking place? I don't think so. Confusion usually has the opposite effect, unless our teacher is standing over us with a club, intoning comprehension quiz tomorrow.

    I'd say take the mundane route instead. Make sure the reader knows what you're talking about. If an element of confusion (in the POV character) comes up shortly afterwards, fair enough. But avoid unnecessary mystery in your opener. Grab the reader with something familiar, then lead them gently away from it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Well too many already know that I use the time/space jump marker (***),
    as I don't have chapters in my own WIP. I just use the time/space marker
    between each of my 3 MCs, unless they happen to be in close proximity
    to one another. Then I don't use it, and can have both sides of some
    dialogue and perspectives take place in close proximity.
     
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  7. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    Relax, even George Martin couldn't figure this one out.
     
  8. Jonas Spångberg

    Jonas Spångberg New Member

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    In my latest book I didn't worry about shorter periods of time, like days or a week or two. I used the progression of the seasons as a time marker. Perhaps a little different from what you had in mind. But I never mind jumps in time, as long as you get a clear notion of them. Like jumping from kindergarten to High school, as long as you are given a hint of it.
     
  9. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    I've never really done huge jumps in time. Maybe a few months at most. But I almost always use sharp cuts. If it's something like months, then I start a new chapter. If it's the next day or two, then a new paragraph will suffice.

    I used to try to write transitions between them but it never read well. Sharp cuts feel much more natural.
     
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  10. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    I was planning on using seasons, festivals and such as a time usage, but my husband says I need something more to convey passage of time.
     
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    What does he suggest?

    What's wrong with, say, "Three months later, as the autumn cold set in..." or "Ten years later, when Joe entered college..."
     
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Yeah, this. I don't notice chapter headings at all, and when they have dates and times or seasons, it means nothing. My brain just skips over them.

    That's the approach I take. Keep it simple!

    Although I remember one reader highlighting a phrase like "A week later" and was practically apoplectic with how awful it was. I never understood that, so I've kept doing it. ;)
     
  13. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I do it all the time too! If it's wrong I don't want to be right. ;)
     
  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    I agree with the others that this is dubious advice (and no offense to your husband, but this isn't the first time if I remember correctly). Timeline maintenance in general is not terribly important unless you have several of them moving at different rates. Multiple POVs do need signposting if you have events overlapping from different perspectives, but one story moving in one direction will do fine with "a week/month/harvest moon later."

    ETA: I liked with Tolkien did with the birthdays for the beginning and ending of LoTR. Everything was signposted by how old Bilbo or Frodo was at the time things happened, and they went through quite a few years at the end, I think.
     
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  15. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    Okay so how about passage of time between 5 different planets?
     
  16. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    You probably need to create some sort of common time system, whether the characters use it or not.
     
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  17. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    Heh heh, only 5? In theory it's no different than 5 different towns. A timeline is a timeline is a timeline. Assuming each has a POV, you would shift between them as the story dictates. If the story is linear follow the events. If you're jumping backwards and forwards in time, then you'll have to signpost. You can use years, seasons, events, whatever... or reference plot points that the reader has already seen.
     
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  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Yep:

    "Ten years after the wedding..."

    "John's second job after graduation..."

    "When the baby turned three...."
     
  19. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    From my WIP:

    Connor dropped his suitcase and duffel bag on the living room floor, meeting up with Jaeden who had flown up the steps and burst through the front door with his own luggage.

    "Damn, I've missed this place." Jaeden turned and grinned at Connor, who returned his smile.

    "Home sweet home," Connor agreed.

    It wasn't like the tour hadn't been the most amazing experience of Connor's life. On the contrary, traveling with one of the top bands in the world across Europe
    for three months with no expense spared was incredible.

    Pry it out of my cold dead hands, homie.
     
  20. QualityPen

    QualityPen Member

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    He's still trying, poor guy.

    Maybe he decided to observe time passing himself so he could write this new experience into his next book?
     
  21. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, I laughed.... :supergrin:
     
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  22. Bobby Burrows

    Bobby Burrows Banned Contributor

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    I had two ways in my arsenal; they were

    Later that day ...
    Time passes and ...

    Then one day, for my own amusement I wanted to have a passage of time, but I added something new and on the spot that I liked which was

    Before you know it ... when introducing a new setting where I just written dialogue to wrap up my story I used it in and to get to my punchline in this short story.

    I've never written centuries passing before, but if I did, I'd probably write

    Centuries pass ...
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  23. Bobby Burrows

    Bobby Burrows Banned Contributor

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    If I was to write a change of season, I'd write

    Seasons change ...

    Later that year ...

    It's now Christmas time...


    Do a montage of seasons changing or a sequence devoted to it like;

    She's determined to win this. She'd do it until one of them breaks. She does it, she does it again another night, then she does it again and in the background someone shouts
    "April Fools!"
    and she'd be serious going
    "I'm not joking."

    Then cut to her doing whatever it is she's determined to do on the 4th of July, have a fireworks display on the horizon
    and then do it again and she's dressed up as a sexy witch, but she's still serious aiming to win/prove something, and still does it...

    Probably a time when a wife got mad at her husband or just determined to prove a point or something where persistence pays off, and the wife just waits it out.

    In that that last Halloween you could give her dialogue like;

    "I could go all the way until Christmas."

    But cut to her doing it next Chinese New Year...

    She could do it celebrating Chinese New Year or not, but I want it to be in the scene somehow, even if it's on TV and then you pan to/cut to her still doing it after Christmas.

    Valentines Day the married couple are in bed, and on the screen it's written
    Valentines Day...

    It's dark and her dialogue's delivered in the same monotonous tone used in all the scenes but instead of saying the same thing she's been saying like 'still doing it' or something, she just says;

    "No."

    So it runs like;
    Doing it
    Doing it again
    Still doing it
    Still doing it
    Still doing it and I can go on until...
    Still doing it past what they said they just said they could go on to.
    Saying 'No' to symbolize still doing it
    then a year later of it ending and them reflecting on it because then we're a year later and to conclude she stops doing it and gets her way? IDK

    Also, reference Thanksgiving like, at the end, the married couple joke about missing Thanksgiving because of it.

    Or maybe have her giving thanks at Thanksgiving dinner to being able to do 'til Christmas... and don't have her say it as a cute/sexy witch costume on Halloween, but have that sexy witch still determined and still saying the line 'that represents she's still doing it'
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  24. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    @OP?

    Suck it up and write those years.
     
  25. lonelystar

    lonelystar Active Member

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    Laurin, was it Jaeden or Connor who flew up the steps? From this I am not sure which one flew up the steps or why they both had luggage.
    Maybe it's just me who has misunderstood.
     

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