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Time frames.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Anders Ämting, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. I recently realized that the entire book I'm planning takes place over little more than a week, of which the heroine spends three days alone in a place where time flows a bit differently. Over the remaining 4-5 days she has to discover her magical heritage, learn about the magical world, awaken her powers, fall in love and defeat the villain. Granted, there is a certain sense of urgency, but I dunno, is it too brief?

    It's not that I couldn't drag it out further, but I don't want to make it seem like I'm stalling by stuffing the plot full of filler. I wouldn't even worry that much about it except for the "fall in love" thing - my two MCs don't have that much time to get to know each other, but then again I'm not sure how quickly teenagers normally fall in love either.
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    To me, "real" time doesn't matter all that much.

    I think that readers root for the MCs to fall in love. As long as you give it proper story space and present/build it properly, I don't think it's a problem.
  3. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    How "in love" do the characters become? If its the typical teenage style love then I don't think it's a big deal. If we're talking a truly committed, mature love...well, that takes time.

    There's also a good bit of psychology at work during traumatic or exciting events. Many theories support the assertion that a love bond is more likely, and quicker to form, in the context of excitement (fear, elation, any extreme of emotional state).

    I know you stated the characters are teens. However, my question is geared towards how you present their love to the reader.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  4. At the very least, the MC must develop a considerable infatuation within the first three days or so. It's a bit of a plot point since her special ability is powered by passionate emotions.

    I don't need it to end with them planning their wedding or anything, but it is a love story, so I'd like it to be worth the while. Can't write a great romance with half-measures, after all.

    Well, no problem there, at least.
  5. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Does the writing focus on times where their love deepens in relation to events? Meaning, when the boy risks his life, almost dying to save the girl, does the writing highlight the progression of her feelings during or afterwards? That's a very basic example, meant only to illustrate the point.

    If you do that well, because of the psychological link between excitement and the love connection, I don't think you'll have an issue with reader acceptance. As Brian said, you'll have to devote time and space to changing feelings for the quickly growing love to seem plausible.
  6. Geldor

    Geldor Scribe

    How much of the week are the characters spent together without any threat from the outside world, if it is only a few days then I would lengthen the plot line maybe 2 weeks.
  7. They basically spend most of the book together, if that's what you mean. Most of the plot is about curing the girl of an affliction that risks killing her. They do fight the bad guy together early on, but she is temporarily insane at the time so it's not that romantic.
  8. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    No, that's not what I mean. I'm talking about the moments right after traumatic events.

    If you want the love connection to seem real, the writing needs to focus on the character's changing emotions after something dramatic has occured between the couple. It cant be written in a cursory fashion. You'll need to devote space to the changing of emotions when "boy saves girl... girl saves boy".

    If you don't address the emotional changes taking place with the characters after each tension filled event, then the love connection will seem forced.
  9. I'm not sure I quite follow you. Of course I'm going to pay attention to the MC's emotions. That seems pretty elementary.
  10. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Teenagers fall in love in an hour and fall out of love just as quickly. I'm sure you can sell that part of it.

    My primary concern with such a short timeframe is that you seem to be plying the "Introduced to a whole new world" gambit for your heroine. She learns about, awakens, and masters her new magic powers all in the span of a few days? I hope she doesn't end up battling experienced magic-users who've been practicing their art for ages. If she defeats such people herself it'll just sound silly, and make the whole system seem arbitrary, Harry Potter style. if the book is intended for younger readers that's great. An adult fantasy with a world built on such rules seems, to me, a harder sell.

    Remember that you can cover a lot of time in a few short passages. Maybe there is a lull in which she tries to reconcile her old life with the new one. Maybe some other character has to go away and find stuff out before the main plot can continue. That gives a span of time for the reader to understand that she was not idle, she continued to learn magic and get to know her love interest, etc.
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Yes, you're not following my meaning.

    Okay.... Of course you're going to pay attention to their emotions. That's not what I'm referring to... I'm talking about how & when you do it.

    What I'm talking about is focusing reader attention, really drawing them into the changes taking place during and after traumatic scenes. Writing that magnifies growing feelings of love, during and immediately after the highest periods of excitement, as a major story element each and every time. Feelings that grow, in stages, after each such event, quickly but steadily. They can't be handled as a sub-plot or written like a sidebar or the love will seem weak.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
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