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  1. yagr

    yagr Contributing Member

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    Skipping large periods of time

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by yagr, Jan 20, 2012.

    How does one leapfrog years in the telling of a story as seemlessly as possible? Let's say, not completely accurate but close enough, that I have a sporadically written in diary, put together by someone who died in 1964 along with some facts about her childhood. Every piece is important, even those that I have from her childhood as they explain so many of the actions and behaviors in her adulthood. I am trying to tell her story but there are a large number of gaps. I can suppose that nothing much happens between 1938-1942 and 1954-1958 for instance, but how to I simply skip over these periods without getting my audience to say, "wtf"?
     
  2. BFGuru

    BFGuru Active Member

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    I've read many books that simply include the year in discussion at the beginning of the chapter. I've never had a "wtf" moment. It simpl re-orients my brain to the new time frame.
     
  3. Cacian

    Cacian Banned

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    the only way to do it is not to mention the dates.
     
  4. TheWritingWriter

    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    If you start off a story and, for example, you write about the character until she's 12, and then through ages 12 and 14 nothing interesting happens, but you didn't plan this, I can understand how it would be difficult introducing the idea that you've just skipped 4 years:

    • You can separate the books into parts, which will make it evident that there has been a significant change in the plot, & then make it evident that she's a new age using dialogue.
    • You can make it really obvious from dialogue in the beginning of the new chapter, instead of a new part, that we've just jumped 4 years, where she's now 14 whereas she was 12 in the last chapter.

    If you're beginning the story and have intentions of doing a lot of time jumping:

    • I've seen authors title the chapters with dates. Example: "July 7th, 1967," - and then you could explain what significant happened that day. If you want to write about the next day in that same chapter, keep going, as long as you make it evident that a new day has come.
    • When you want to start a new chapter, but it's two days after "July 7th, 1967," then you can just title that new Chapter "July 9th, 1967."
    • You could give each year its own chapter/section. There a lot of things you could do with it.
     
  5. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    One Day by David Nicholls misses out quite a few months, and years. I know it's probably not the genre you are after, but you could look at it to see how it's done. It had a few faults, but the time thing wasn't one of them.
     
  6. yagr

    yagr Contributing Member

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    I just wanted to say 'Thank you' for the feedback; it helped.
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The reader isn't stupid. If you have time periods to skip, just skip them. The reader will not be baffled.
     
  8. hoggyboy

    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    the reader will never think wtf if you have skipped time lol alot of books do it so i dunno why your worried about it
     
  9. yagr

    yagr Contributing Member

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    Now Steerpike, I just moved from California so I know that you know that there are stupid people there too....and some of them read! :) j/k thanks!
     
  10. yagr

    yagr Contributing Member

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    The book is adult fiction - and I don't read adult fiction so, didn't know it was common. And darn it - I wanted to write an uncommon book! Thanks hoggyboy. :)
     
  11. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One option is to write the adult story - I mean, start the story with the character as an adult - and include the childhood material in flashbacks. I don't know what your story actually is, but it seems likely that most of it takes place in adulthood, so there's your story. The childhood material illuminates and explains what happens later, but maybe isn't really part of it.

    As I said, it's an option. It might not fit your concept, but you might consider it.
     
  12. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cacian...
    it's done effectively in many different ways by successful novelists, some involving use of the date or year...

    yagr...
    check out novels that involve major time gaps and see how others have done it, then decide which way works best for yours...
     
  13. Enzo03

    Enzo03 Member

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    I've seen it happen in several books. One example is Jack McDevitt's book Deepsix where the opening events start some 20+ years prior to the rest of the story and play an important role in it as well. It puts the date on the first page of each chapter, as with his other books in the same series. It's science fiction so no idea if you'd be interested but it is a good example of this. I can't think of any other books off of the top of my head that skip such a large period of time.
     
  14. Match

    Match Member

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    Is this going to be narrated in first or third person? There are some really effective techniques for both of them.
     
  15. yagr

    yagr Contributing Member

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    Third person limited omniscient
     

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