Time Lapse in Writing

Time is one of the trickiest subjects when writing a story. Not only does your world has to be convincing enough when writing fiction, the pass of time is something to keep in mind throughout the story. Depending on your story, you will have to keep track of the days that had gone by naturally, as the characters go about their lives – days, years, age, technology changes … It doesn’t matter if you are writing historical fiction or a modern romance, the pass of time is something to be aware of and keep track. If the protagonist went to work on Monday, and went to sleep that same day, but was meeting with someone on Wednesday, it would be unnatural to wake her up and take her to meet that person – where did Tuesday go? Another example is aging characters appropriately if the story demands it, as well as characters dealing with issues that are age related. In a series, time becomes tricky, and something to watch out for, as in the case of many years going by in the story, from the first book to the second book. You will have to age characters, but also technology in many cases. In addition, some people might not be able to come back because naturally they would be dead. I will use one of my novels as an example, and something I caught “on time” when writing it. It had to do with the pass of time – more than 20 years – and the mention of an aged character in the second book. In the first book, the character retained the title of Mayor, and referred to as Mayor Degan many times. In the second book, I caught myself referring to him as Mayor Degan, when he was at least 20 years older (no problem there, he was aged appropriately), however impossible to be retaining the title for that long. In my mind, the writer’s mind, he was still Mayor Degan, however I had to call him now by his name – Blake Degan. He was not even a character that interacted much throughout the story, but was a necessary one. Time affected even this character.

Supernatural characters might be able to play with time, but it still has to be mentioned in some way, as part of their condition, otherwise it might confuse the reader. Maybe they don’t age, or they can make themselves age according to time … somehow, the writer has to make this known to the reader.

Technology is another issue, not only in the topic of time, but on location as well. As an example, if internet connection is being used as part of the story, it is obvious that the internet speed is different in New York City than in a remote country location. These small details might not seem important, but they are.

The phrase “Time will tell” comes to mind.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.



10 thoughts on “Time Lapse in Writing

  1. There are times I will sit down a write a chart of ages and events to make certain it all comes out right. I want to make sure my characters make age appropriate remarks. I don’t want them making expressions or referencing events they would have no knowledge of. That is sometimes my biggest editing and rewriting challenges.

  2. Sometimes I even forget last names and important info. At times when involved in a long works like a novel I’ll keep a file on them.

  3. Most of my books are mainly over a short period of time, with only a chapter or so of back story. But the one I’m currently writing is over two decades and I am constantly making little timelines to try to remember how old the characters should be! LOL! And yes, you’re right, too, about the technology! I have to remember to keep making the cellphones smaller and able to do more stuff this time around. LOL! 😀

  4. Congratulations! So many details to keep track that sometimes it gets crazy. As I write the story, I keep a file on the pc to remember names, age, creatures, and any other particular issue, or something that might become a loose end, just so it becomes easier when I have to refer to it.

Comments are closed.