1. ElConesaToLoco

    ElConesaToLoco Active Member

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    Significant time jump between chapters

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ElConesaToLoco, Mar 21, 2018.

    I'm wondering if readers would be fine if there is a time gap between chapters 14 and 15.

    So, the MC gets dissilutioned because of being lied to in regards to his objectives (Basically, fighting for the independence of his kingdom), and after that happens, his daughter talks him into giving up the whole being a hero thing that he's always had going on in his life. I'm thinking that the group (MC, daughter and a 14 year old kid they rescued early in the story) could go to some isolated area to just live their lifes out of conflicts and trouble. And that's when the time gap would happen.

    Chapter 15 would start at the 17th birthday of the boy, and things would then happen to motivate the MC to go back to his heroism. At the start of the chapter, there would be a difference in the way the characters talk to each other, to imply that they've grown closer over the last few years (The boy would go from referring to the MC as "sir" to calling him by his name, for example).

    Does that sound fine, or does it seem like the relationship development between the MC and the boy (Who's acting as a sort of surrogate son after the real one died at the start of the story) should be shown in the book, instead of implied?. Does it sound like lazy writing if there's a sharp change in tone between them?.
     
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  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a firm believer in learning to write good transitions. Always orient the reader.

    If you can let the reader know—right at the start of a 'new' time period—that time has moved on, then the story will move smoothly ahead. The problem would come if your readers start out thinking the previous chapter only happened yesterday, and it turns out it's happening ten years later, or something like that. If you wait too long to introduce the concept of 'oh, by the way, this is ten years later' you will already have confused the reader and yanked them out of the story. Engineer the transition right at the very start. Within the first sentence or two, if you can.

    I think it's important to incorporate this time shift into the writing itself. Don't rely on chapter headings to do the trick. A lot of people don't look at chapter headings, or the dates often don't register because the reader doesn't remember the date of the previous chapter.

    A major time change is not a place for fancy literary devices or clever little hints. Just spit it out. If the characters' relationship has changed in the intervening time period and they are speaking differently now, that will make total sense IF you also tell the reader that time has, indeed, changed. If you don't, you risk reader confusion, which will send them paging backwards to try to figure out what they missed. That's never a good idea, in my opinion.

    There are many different ways to indicate a time change. You can make it straightforward. Ten years later, Mutt and Jeff arranged to meet again in the same garden. Or you can be more subtle. Mutt can notice the new lines on Jeff's face and reflect on how hard the past ten years have been for him, etc. Or whatever works for your story. Just get it out there in unambiguous terms, and do it as soon as you can after the change takes place.
     
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  3. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    The readers will be fine if it makes sense for the story. An epic family saga like "East of Eden" makes sense to take place over several decades. In "Lord of the Rings" it would seem quite odd if at some point Frodo decided it's too much to walk that far, been chased and all, and went back to the Shire for a few years, untill something else happened to inspire him to finish his trip to Mordor. The story still has a moment where Frodo decides it's too much to walk that far etc, then gets inspiration to go on, without that needing a big gap in time.
     
  4. ElConesaToLoco

    ElConesaToLoco Active Member

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    So, here's how I'm thinking I could set it up, so that it doesn't just happen out of the blue.

    In the current chapter (13), the daughter has realized how pointless her quest for revenge is (The invading empire's ruler completely ruined their lives at the start of the book. But the MC looks at it from the perspective of doing justice, instead of revenge), and tells the MC that they should just retire, live their lives and forget the whole "fight for the kingdom's independence" thing that they set out to do at the start, as well as their intended assassination of the emperor. The daughter has become rather traumatized because of things she's done in the pursuit of her revenge, and that gives the MC some motivation to agree, as she's the only real family he has left, and wants the best for her.

    Then, in chapter 14, the main character is told that he was lied to in regards to his goal, which was to lead the kingdom's army in the upcoming uprising (MC was nobility, but most people think he died at the start). The heir to the kingdom's throne agreed to have the MC as his second in command after the MC saves him from a band of criminals, but then reveals he only agreed to it because he needed the MC's help to secure another count's support for the war, and admits to this after they achieve that goal. MC gets rather pissed, and he's already doubting if the people of his kingdom are worth fighting for, because of a few things that have already happened in the book.

    Then, as they're no longer needed to support the upcoming revolution, and with the change in perspective and circumstances in both characters, the MC gives in to the daughter's wish to finally have some peace for themselves, and agrees to retire to some isolated area.

    Chapter 15 starts, the boy that travels with them has grown into a young man, and it's explicitly said that his birthday is coming next day (Was 14, now he's about to become 17, so that's pretty straightforward). Also, I would use this chapter to establish how the main characters have been living rather normal lives, as they planned, and how they keep in touch with the people who live in a nearby town, which sets up the future event that pushes the MC to go back to the whole "we need to do justice with the emperor" thing that he let go 3 years before.

    ¿Does that sound good?. The MC's character arc deals mostly with the logical conclussions of living your life as someone who's willing to give up everything in order to achieve justice, and at this point in his life, that commitment to his moral code has caused him plenty of suffering and misery, including, but not limited to, having his son sacrifice his own life for those same ideals. This point of the story is about him trying something different, to then realize that he can't escape who he is, and that his wish for justice will always be there, no matter how much it hurts him to pursuit that goal.
     
  5. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    If this is a character driven book, ie what matters most is how this character changes over the course of many events, then it may work :agreed:
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not commenting on your story, as such, because this isn't really the time and place. But yes, I think the transition of the boy's age should orient the reader so there isn't any confusion ...providing the reader was aware that the boy was 14 years old before! If you haven't made that clear in your previous chapters, I'd be sure to do it. The recap of what everybody else has been doing during that three years should also work, provided it's not just an infodump. Once the reader is aware that the time jump has happened, there's no huge rush to get them up to speed on what has happened to everybody else in the story. Let that unfold naturally, if you can.
     
  7. ElConesaToLoco

    ElConesaToLoco Active Member

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    Well, yes, it's alredy stablished that he's 14 when they rescued him. And most people call him boy or kid. I guess I could slip a mention of his age in one of the last episodes before the time gap, just as a refresher for the reader.
    Also, yeah, not too big on infodumps, I like to slip small nuggets of info every now and then. The MC will have been doing some carpentry in his spare time, as he used to do when he was a young guy himself (Before the whole being a hero thing starts), and I plan to have a new character (Who's already on a first name basis) comment on how much the MC has improved his craft ever since he arrived to this new area. Also he would go to town to buy some food for the boy's birthday, and the store lady would talk to him in a way that signals that he's been around for a while.
    To be honest, the only thing that really worries me is that the reader would feel betrayed because of giving up on the original plan that the MC had (Fight for the kingdom's independence). It's a tough call for him, but the relationship with his daughter is a very important aspect of the book, and I can absolutelly see a man giving up on fighting for the freedom of a nation that is nothing like the one he fought for in his youth, so he could then spend time with a daughter that he didn't get too see much for most of his life.
     

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