- Email me
- Nail Your Novel: books
- FAQ: I’m a new writer: which book should I read first?
- FREE Nail Your Novel Instant Fix: 100 Tips For Fascinating Characters
- My writing process: the picture tour
- Nail Your Novel: A Companion Workbook
- Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
- Reviews of Nail Your Novel
- Who’s tweeting about Nail Your Novel …
- Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel
- Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart: Nail Your Novel
- Who am I?
Posts Tagged time passing in novels
I’ve already discussed a few general points in a previous post – scenes with a lot of characters and shifting point of view , dialogue and description. Today I’m going to look at passage of time (modelled here by Dave).
When is it?
One of the key questions when we come into any scene is this: when is it happening?
Movies and prose handle this in different ways.
Suppose your story features a man who’s refurbishing a derelict bar. In a movie, it’s shown with a sequence of scenes. In one, he is getting to work, pulling old cupboards off the walls and uprooting obsolete appliances. In the next scene, it’s clean, the floorboards are sanded and he’s opening for business.
Because film is an external storytelling medium (we watch it from the outside) we accept that this cut is telling us several days or weeks have passed. We know we don’t stay with the characters for every second of their experience.
But in prose, a cut like this might feel too abrupt. Because prose is internal, and we walk in the characters’ shoes, a sudden jump in time can feel like too much of a lurch. We need a linking sentence or two to ease the way, drawing attention to what’s changed. Many writers who are weaned on movies leave these details out.
A sense of time
As well as evidence that time has passed, we also need a sense of it passing. If you have other characters or storylines, you can cut away to them, then return to your bar, which is now finished. This might create the gap you need.
But if your story follows just one character, you need to create the passage of time in your narration.
If we watch a movie we’ll do this ourselves. We’ll assume the character spent a week or a month working on the bar non stop. In prose, we need you to add this element, even if it’s only two lines, saying ‘I had no time to worry about anything. I was sanding, sawing, painting, ordering crockery. I flopped into bed at night and rose with the dawn.’ Indeed this is the prose version of the movie technique of condensing a sequence of events into a montage. (See, there are some techniques that translate well!)
Prose fiction has to fill more gaps than a movie does. In prose, we need to keep the connection with the reader’s mind, rather than chopping the experience into pieces.
What examples of passage of time have you liked – both in movies and in prose? Let’s discuss!
authors, Character, characters, Description, description of a person, fiction, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write description for a prose novel, improve your writing style, movies, movies versus novels, movies vs prose, My Memories of a Future Life, novels, passage of time, polishing, prose, prose description, prose style, prose version, publishing, Roz Morris, storytelling, time passing in novels, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing craft, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing style
- ‘I have a flash fiction mind’ – interview with Jayne Martin @jayne_martin February 21, 2021
- Your first pages – 5 more book openings critiqued by a literary agent, YA author @AJ_Dickenson (and me!) at @Litopia February 15, 2021
- ‘Deep in the vulnerabilities and privileges of suburbia’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Adam Byatt @RevHappiness February 10, 2021
- How to write a logline for your novel February 7, 2021
- Finding your personal magic – talking to @thecreativepenn about forgotten places, historic landscapes and Not Quite Lost January 28, 2021
- Getting to the truth about strong women and troubled teenhood – novelist, playwright, essayist, writing coach Martha Engber @MarthaEngber January 24, 2021
- How to write captivating characters – interview at @Sacha_Black Rebel Author podcast January 17, 2021