Friday, September 2, 2016

It's about time

by Liz Flaherty


How can it be September already? I swear, school just got out a few days ago—life’s timeline is flying by. It makes me think of timelines in books. Because I have trouble with them, too.

In one book that was contracted and completed, the publisher wanted the timeline to be shorter. Really? It started with an important spring event and ended at Christmas. How am I supposed to change Christmas? Well, I didn’t, but I did change spring into summer and it worked all right. Ten years or so later, I’m still wondering what difference it made.

I love novellas. I like writing them and reading them. But occasionally their timelines will give me
some “what was that again?” moments in the suspension of my disbelief. Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I don’t believe you can find true love and commitment in a weekend. True love, yes, you bet. But I’ve read novellas where a single parent totally trusts someone else with their child, their home, and their money after a single night of lust. They’ve told them their life story and grown to trust them even if they’ve never trusted another person in their entire life. They’ve been so shy they would barely speak, but within hours they’re singing karaoke and dancing on the tables in a bar. (I may be exaggerating a little there, but you get the picture.)

I like stories where the timeline is long enough for the emotions to go deep. The impending stepparent gets the opportunity to find out their true love’s little darling sometimes is a brat but for the most part is more pleasure than pain. One partner gets to find out the other one not only looks like Medea in the morning, her personality is crap until she’s drunk plenty of coffee. Or, when he goes back to work after the weekend, he’s not really “up” for whatever sexual games she may have in mind to play four times through the night because he’s asleep in the recliner.

I suppose the setting of the timeline has to do with urgency. I know it’s important so that you don’t make logistical mistakes (remember Barbara Hershey digging up the garden in Indiana in the wintertime in Hoosiers?) When I write, I always start out keeping the timeline very neatly and completely; by the time the story is finished, I have cryptic notes like “you can’t drive 800 miles in an afternoon.”


Now that I’ve written this—in 39 minutes and counting—I’m not sure why I did. But Happy September anyway, and if you’ve ever happened onto any timeline errors of your own or anyone else’s, we’d love to hear about them.

11 comments:

  1. Liz - I totally agree with how quickly time passes! I would think that it slows with age, but it seems to be the reverse. LOL.

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    1. Yeah, I think it's only the physical things that slow down--and they ALL do! :-)

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  2. If there is anything I've learned, it's that you can't please everyone. According to some, my characters either fall in love too fast or not fast enough. I generally go with what feels right to me and hope it works for the majority of my readers. And I can't believe it's September either!

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    1. Well, that's for sure true. I'm the queen of the second-guessers, though. I always wonder if I should have done something differently.

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  3. I still have my Bix timeline up on my bulletin board so I could accurately time out the "events" and not get lost. Lol Poster board is my friend.


    And I've thought the same thing while reading some romances. Lust can be instantaneous but instant lifetime commitment is rare and not so believable. Loved your examples😃

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  4. It's always bothered me, how fast characters fall in love in romances. I try to telescope that out in my own stories, but editors seem to want something else.

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    1. Well, the falling-in-love has to be the core of the story. It's why I like friends-to-lovers and reunion stories--that feeling's probably been there, latent--for a long time. But I like it so much better when it happens over a longer period; makes me believe it will last. Thanks for coming by, Mark.

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  5. This summer has gone by in a nanosecond and suddenly it's September. I'm not ready for fall yet. And I'm definitely not ready for winter!

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    1. Agreed. And nothing seems to slow things down. Although I must admit, as a citizen of the USA, I will be glad to have the election over with.

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  6. Loved this post, Liz. I like writing novellas also, and I too have a hard time with the rushed falling in love scenario. I guess that's why my characters always have a previous history. To me, it's just more believable.

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