Nov 052014


Where does the time go?

It seems like we just brought the summer clothes out of storage and it’s already time to put them away in favor of winter wear. Then we need to figure out the menu and other details for Thanksgiving, prepare the gift lists and then shop for Christmas. Not to mention dispose of the jack-o-lanterns and leftover candy.

Because Halloween is over. A cold, windy and snow strewn Halloween for us this year.

That’s one thing about living up here in the North Country. We have an advantage of sorts. A distinct change in the weather, rather temperature that alerts us to the arrival of the next season be that spring, summer, fall or winter.

Which brings me to the topic for this week – pacing.

A while back, I was happily writing along on my current wip, took my characters through the steps of this event and that to the final chapter. I finished the last sentence, proofed for typos and such, then sent the manuscript in.

My first edits came back with overall suggestions to expand on some story arcs. But what really caught my attention were notes, questions really, at the beginning of a couple of key chapters. Specifically, my editor wanted to know – “How much time has passed?”

Apparently I had made clear where my characters were, who they were with, how they felt, what they were doing and why. However, I’d failed to explain in what exact sequence all of this activity took place and, in relation to what had happened before.


That kind of fix is easy enough with lines such as;

It had been six days since . . .

Over the past several weeks . . .

In the ensuing months . . .

At noon the next day . . .

You get the idea.

In my mind, such as it is, I was well aware of the timeline as it pertained to what was going on. I just made one mistake. I hadn’t allowed my reader to arrive at a similar sense of awareness.

Tricky stuff. Knowing what’s going on in the story you’re writing doesn’t necessarily mean you know what’s going on in the story you’re writing.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

  • There are tons of times I have NO idea what’s going on in my story haha. Keep at it though!

    • The best, no make that, only way to go for writers., S. L.

  • Great post! I have a hard time with timelines–specifically not making all the action happen in, like, a week. Stretching things out is hard for me. 🙂

  • Pacing has always been a problem for me, Margo. Still is, for that matter. Thank goodness for great critique partners and awesome copy editors. 🙂

  • And there’s always, Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

  • Very interesting blog! I think you must have read my mind – I was just about to hit ‘send’ for my latest wip when I realized that, far from time passing, my hero and heroine had skipped a day(or day one lasted 48 hours) and they were going into Groundhog Day mode. Oops!

  • Welcome to IWSG, Margo! You’ll love it here! Timelines are like math-the bane of my existence, but one must keep track to keep those characters and events in line.

    • Thanks, Nancy. Once again I follow your lead. Yes, timelines are the bane of my existence too.

  • You are so right, Margo! It’s so easy to overlook adding that in! In fact, I may or may not have a calendar for one of my books. 🙂 Just so I wouldn’t forget. (I also may, or may not, have included a historical record of the phases of the moon so I would know if they could see in the dark. LOL!)

    • Yep, Alyssa. Nothing worse than setting a scene in the dark then have one character see something in another character’s eyes. Again points to the value of editors and CPs.

  • This is such an issue for me right now! I have a timeline and know what is going on when, but I need to remember to convey that to the reader as well. Thanks for the tips!

  • I think it’s very common that we forget those time markers. We have the story in our heads. Another thing though that is frustrating is too many markers… I don’t need to know when each moment passes. 🙂

  • Diane Burton

    I had to keep a calendar for my latest book. I knew as each day went by but not which day of the week or which week. Great reminder, Margo.

    • Late responding, Diane. Sorry. You’re like me. If I don’t write it down, it’s gone!

  • I think your point of you knowing what’s going on in your book but not necessarily translating that to your reader is a good one. That’s why critique groups, beta readers, editors, are so important. Nothing like writing a scene and having a beta reader say, “So these two are in love, right?” “Umm, no. They’re brothers! Where did you get that?” Or, “He’s an accountant? I thought he was a clown.” Since we know our characters and stories so well it’s hard to see when we have left our readers in a puddle of confusion. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hmmmm. I can relate, M.J. I’ve had a lot of ‘where did you get that?’ moments in my writing life, both critiquing and being critiqued.

  • Pacing–usually my forte in terms of page-turning, but not so much when it comes to actual time passage in the story. Thanks for the timely suggestions (pun?)

    • Another good point, Susan. Pacing in a story doesn’t necessarily mean actual passage of time. Glad you liked my ‘timely’ post.

  • A “timely” post!

  • Thanks for bringing up the subject. My novel of one scene “The Pleasure Dome,” which is turning into an autobiography takes place within four hours. The hero takes note of the rapidly passing of time.

    One character is a writer who complains about the lack of action, descriptive paragraphs etc. The hero disagrees with her pointing out the character arcs of three of his séance attendees.

    Happy Writing.

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