Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Passing Time in a WIP

Photo by ToniVC

I have a question to ask some of you. How do you pass time in your books? (I'm not talking about when you sit down with a good book and look up hours later to discover it's dark and you're starving.) I'm talking about in your WIPs...when you need time to pass. There are several reasons for this, like giving the hero/heroin feasible time to fall in love or to get to a certain month in the calendar where a national or local event is usually held.

This was the dilemma I was faced with in Blessed Beyond the Curse. National Foster Care Appreciation Month is in May (this isn't really something I wanted to take artistic license with). My book starts out in September. And the climactic scene of the second act (if you don't know what I'm talking about...I suggest Jeff Gerke's How to Find Your Story) ends right before Halloween! Argh!

My crit buddy and I both were impressed with how Stephenie Meyer passed time in the Twilight series when Edward leaves Bella by just typing the names of the month on each page to show all the time they spent apart. That was a really creative idea.

But I ended up jumping to about seven different scenes over the course of the 6 months, and I took the opportunity to give my heroine her spiritual turning point as well as show some internal and external healing elements. And of course, the hero realizes he's in love. So that was kinda fun. But it was HARD!!

Q4U: How do you pass time in your novels? Do you have some sort of tried and true method you might want to share with the rest of us?

Wordle: signature


Tess said...

Sometimes adding a side journey or a connection to a side character can fill a bit of time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with starting a chapter with something along the lines of, "By the time spring came..."

If I were in that delima (and I must say it seems you figured it out just fine) - but - I would likely go back and change the start date of my story.

BTW, I'm asking for some advice (a Do's and Don'ts game) on my blog today and would sure love to get a peek into that mind of yours :)

Jill Kemerer said...

Oh boy, I have this problem too! I actually plan most of my books to only take place over a short span of time (2 to 6 weeks) but I write category romance and that's the norm.

I think readers are very accepting of "The following Tuesday..." or "...she couldn't believe it had been two weeks since..."

When I'm reading a book, I want the author to ground me in the time frame. I don't care how fancy it happens. It's just important to know that time has passed and how much has passed.

Jody Hedlund said...

I cut to new scenes all the time. I rarely use narrative to pass the time. Therefore I usually allude to how much time has passed since the last scene and try to weave it in somehow. Every once in a while when I need to skip ahead a lot, I'll mention the passing of a season or holiday or something major to mark the time. It's tricky and I'm still not sure if I handle it the best way yet!

Jeannie Campbell said...

thanks, ladies...all helpful suggestions i'll keep in mind!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

A transition sentence or two, sometimes a paragraph of detail, but that's about all I use for longer gaps between scenes. I liked how Meyers did it too, in New Moon. Very inventive!

Liana Brooks said...

It depends on the novel. In most I try to keep the time line compact so this doesn't become an issue. When it does, I show major events and then have a character mention how long has passed. It's not new or creative, but it doesn't slow anything down either.

Katie said...

I have a couple spots like that in Velvet - I've just been using a few sentences of narration to bring the reader up to speed.

Terri Tiffany said...

All of the above! I'm there now with my WIP where I need some time to pass as they grow closer before the next major event but am near the holidays so things can happen.
I see you are almost done with yours!!

Ralene said...

I think I have to agree with Tess--esp in your situation. So much changes in six months--people, relationships, situations. If you drag the reader ahead six months, you pull them from the story and then have to reintegrate them...again. A month or two isn't so bad, sometimes things don't change so much. But if you sit there and think back to your life six months ago and what's happened since, you'll see what I mean.