Tuesday, October 23, 2018

#TipfulTuesday Timeline Details

Today's topic is Timeline Details.

I like to pick a topic I am currently duking it out with...and sometimes winning. It doesn't seem like the timeline in our story should be difficult, but today's discussion might help you rethink the importance of examining and reexamining the details.

Let's look at issues that even a plotter might miss. 

Here is the issue: Some of the days in our story require more text time than others. We skim over unimportant things that would naturally happen, a meal, travel time, etc. The reader knows this. At other times crucial details fill chapters, all for one day! Keeping an eye on the day seems easy when we're writing. Morning. Afternoon. Night. Next day. 


Where we might face trouble in those crucial detail chapters is falsely assuming all the events can happen in the given time period. 

While captivated in a story, time seems to flow. But when tested, we might find too many hours of activity for the allowed time.

To solve the problem in my WIP, I walked through the days and assigned real time for each activity. This conversation and the ancillary details would last 1 hour. This drive would take 4 hours, (I googled the journey to determine this one). This activity lasted 2 hours including walking out the door and getting to the next action.

The day causing my concern had a lot packed into it. When my character arrived home that night, I wondered, could this character really do all of these things in one day? So I mapped out not only the activity but the time required in between to get from one task to the next. Everything had to be considered to keep the readers moving forward in the story and not hung up doubting the validity of the story. How long does it take to walk from the house to the car? How long does it take to order a meal in a busy restaurant or a rather empty restaurant? 

Time is crucial. 

It's easy to think the reader will morph because they are captivated in the story. But a detail like unrealistic time can snag the reader and cause them to fall out of the story and close the book. This reader may not return to the pages.

Time is crucial.

Map out not only the years, the months, the days but also the hours and the minutes. If you're not a plotter, like me, then test these components in the editing process. Actually, plotters need to do this as well. 

Time is crucial. 

A story must move forward from page one to the last. Even in a time-slip, even in flashback, the story always moves forward with realistic allocated units of time. Never assume. Always test. Do this for your readers.

Photo by Mary Vee
Basil, Switzerland
Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Mary's new release, Christmas With The Enemy, is available on Amazon.


kaybee said...

Mary, this is interesting and worth thinking about. My current WIP takes place over the span of two months, from early November to Christmas Eve, so I have to work to fit it all in. It was suggested that I bump up the word count, so I have a little more to fit in over two months. And Christmas is in there somewhere...Thanks for a good post.
Kathy Bailey
Making it all fit in New Hampshire

Robin E. Mason said...

Oh my goodness, YES!!! I went from 150 year span in my first series, to ONE YEAR in my second series!! I printed out the year with a line for each day so I could keep track of significant events. This helped OH! so much as I got into the third book, which doubled back some to the earlier dates. So-n-so couldn't be in one city on such and such a day, if I had already placed her in another town, etc. Thanks for a great post, Mary!!