Monday, November 15, 2010

All About Time

What I'm reading: Day of the Dragon, by Rebecca York

A brief commercial message: I've uploaded a new free read at Smashwords, "The Other Side of the Page." It's a collection of my 'job interviews' with Randy and Sarah, plus a look at what they say about me when I'm not around. It's just for fun, and I hope you'll download it. And don't forget—the coupon for "A Summer's Eve" will expire on the 16th. Download it now while it's a free read. Coupon Code BL83R. Click on the 'story' tab above for the links.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

One challenge I faced when I wrote my first novel was how to deal with time. The plot required that my hero and heroine be separated, which meant that time moved forward for each of them. Thus, a scene with Sarah might start in the morning and carry her through to lunchtime. Meanwhile, of course, Randy's story didn't stop. When I shifted point of view from Sarah to Randy, it was important to let the readers know when they were.

Sometimes it was possible to start the new scene with a quick "catch up" transition, if , as in the above example, I was going to pick up with Randy at lunchtime. But what if something important was going on with Randy at the same time readers were busy with Sarah? Then it would either be a flash back (yawn—not recommended) or I'd have to jump back in time.

Time became fluid. We'd move forward, then back up, then catch up once again as the POV characters switched. . For the last chapters of the book, where Sarah was missing and Randy was trying to find her, I actually wrote their scenes separately, then dovetailed them so the reader didn't have to go too far forward before backing up and starting time over again. But I was always writing chronologically.

Not quite so with my current WIP. Faithful blog readers here might recall that I've always preferred the "mystery" approach to my romantic suspense novels rather than true "suspense." However, in my current WIP, it's so clear who the "bad guy" is, that I've expanded to include a villain's point of view, since it's not really spoiling anything for the reader. He definitely doesn't get a lot of page time, and geographically, he's nowhere near the hero and heroine, so he's not interacting with them when it's his turn to be front and center.

Now, I'm normally very much a 'write in order' writer. I've never been able to hop around writing scenes as they occur to me. However, in this case, I've been able to stop writing the hero and heroine's story from time to time to write a "stand alone" chapter for Victor. What I don't have nailed down just yet is exactly where these chapters are going to fit in the overall chronology of the novel. I'd written about six chapters before Victor insisted on one of his own, so I wrote it, even though it belongs much closer to the beginning of the book.

To date, I have 4 chapters in Victor's POV, and foresee one or two more. I have to deal with timing thing so the right information is revealed to the reader at the right time. I know there will have to be tweaks and adjustments for things in a chapter that might not belong where I've written them. And, for me, that's one of the reasons I don't like to write out of order…the danger that some of these misplaced events, clues, and reveals might be missed when things get rewoven.

On the one hand, it's nice to have somewhere to go that's still working on the book when I get bogged down with the hero and heroine's story, or if I'm waiting for a critical bit of research. On the other, I'm stuck with having to virtually open up the manuscript, insert a Victor chapter, and make sure everything is seamless.

Tomorrow, my guest is mystery author Patricia Stoltey. Many of you already know her from her comments here and her own blog. She's going to be talking about her other creative outlet, and how it helps her writing. I do hope you'll be back.


Annabelle Ambrosio said...

I've read some books where it can get confusing when a character leaves the scene and it seems that a good space between the switch helps for me.

Terry Odell said...

Anabelle - yes, those extra lines can help alert the reader that time has passed.

Anonymous said...

Inserting the third (villian's) point of view works as long as too much isn't divulged. I had this issue in my latest release MESSAGE TO LOVE. I was careful not to give away too much along the way but the POV gave the antagonist's motivation so it was worth the time and lines. Nice post. Look forward to more.

Terry Odell said...

Liz, in this case the heroine is running from an abusive husband, so it's pretty obvious he's not one of the good guys. Normally, I don't like that 'extra' pov because it takes a mystery and turns it into suspense, and I'm all about mystery. But sometimes the story and the characters rule.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I try to write scenes in chronological order, but when I write multiple POV, I often have to cut and paste to get the timeline straight. Even so, I love writing multiple POV because I like seeing what the bad guy is thinking while he's plotting his evil deeds.

Terry Odell said...

Patricia - I agree, I like to write chronologically. This is my first real stumbling block as I try to figure out when to reveal each piece of information, and from who's POV. Definitely a new venture from a formerly straight mystery approach writer!

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm bad with the time thing. Once I finished the first draft of a manuscript only to discover I'd written one day twice - with different things happening on each one. It wasn't pretty. I've gotten a little better.

Jemi Fraser said...

I tend to write from 2pov as well - thanks for the tips! :)

Terry Odell said...

Carol - I did have them eat dinner twice once.

Jemi - glad if they helped.