Okay. Days, weeks and (yikes!) months have passed since my last blog and despite life’s trials and tribulations, the writing bug keeps following me. So here I am. Onwards!

As a writer, TIME is one of the elements we must be aware of as we craft our stories. (See what I did there?)

The standard concept of a story entails a beginning, middle and end. However, every story has more than just a simple plot to follow. There are sub-plots, side stories, flashbacks and many other things that shape a novel. When crafting your novel, it is imperative to know and follow your timeline carefully. This applies even more so when your story has no linear path to tell your tale. What is linear time? Linear time is simple. You start with the beginning of your story and continue to the end. This can be from the past to the present and then ending in the future.

If all stories were that simple, the limitations of writing would be painful.

As it so happens, writing a story does not have to happen in the present and move forward. It can start in the past and end in the present. Perhaps it begins in the present with your main character sitting at a park bench eating a box of chocolates before leading the reader to many adventures growing up until we arrive in the present once more to conclude the story. (Sound familiar?)

We can also start a story at the climax of the tale. Your main character might be in the middle of a boss fight, shooting bad guys, pulling out samurai swords and turning thugs into shish-kabob. Then moving back to an earlier place before the story moves forward and we can enjoy the ending where the hero beats the bad guy, finds love and grows as a person.

Throughout each story we tell, a timeline needs to be in place. We need to know what order things happen in and what order we will need to tell the story. If your story is straight-forward and goes from now to later with no deviation then keeping track of events is not an issue. However, if you throw in a flashback or make any reference to events that are not in the present, you need to know as much about those events as what is happening in the present. In order to keep a reader from losing their place in the story, we must guide them through the tale with as much clarity as possible. Make each shift in time relevant. Use past foreshadowing to predict the story climax.

Create a timeline for yourself to illustrate the events of your story. Make each significant event a highlight. If you use a flashback, sub-plot or foreshadow to your ending, be sure to know how and when each event takes place leading the story where you want. Keeping track of your timeline is essential, otherwise it will be the readers who find the holes in your plot or discrepancies in your timeline. As story tellers, we need to find these errors first so the tales we tell can be enjoyed rather than questioned.

Whichever direction you choose in your timeline, follow it carefully and adhere to it so your readers understand each twist and turn of the world you have created.

Happy writing!

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If your life could use more time and is filled with ups and downs then you might enjoy reading one of my books. They are filled with ups and downs, good people and bad, killers and pets… Grand things that make life worthwhile.

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