Posted in Writing

On Heroes And Villains: What Is Right, What Is Wrong?

Good vs. bad is a common theme everywhere. It’s in novels: your protagonist is “good” and no matter what genre you’re writing in, there’s always a “bad” guy who happens to be the villain of the story, your protagonist’s rival, or simply just someone who is mean and considered “bad” by the readers.

This theme pops up (a little too frequently) in real life as well.

It’s probably one of the more common ones and it’s the broadest because there’s so much you can do with it.

But here’s the thing: Everyone has different opinions, different perspectives. So, who exactly is good and who is bad? Who’s right and who’s wrong?

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When you think of a hero, you think “good.” When you think of a villain, you think “bad.” We assume the protagonist is automatically good because they’re the “protagonist.” And we assume the antagonist is bad because they’re in competition with the protagonist.

But what exactly is good and what is bad? Who decides?

 

 

What makes a character Good?

Their traits

Good or nice characters typically have certain traits that include, but are not limited to:

  • Kind to all
  • Cares about others
  • Puts others before him/herself
  • Brave
  • Patient
  • Forgiving
  • Thankful
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Self-controlled
  • Trusting

And there’s plenty more, but I could create a whole post on traits alone.

Their motivation

What is the ultimate goal for a good character? They want to help others, save and protect others, etc. They don’t want to help people in order to brag that they did a good deed, either. They simply do something good out of the kindness of their heart and because it’s the right thing to do.

What makes a character Bad?

Their traits

Similar to the good guy, they’re personality is made up of many traits that allow them to do the evil things they wish.

  • Jealous
  • Distrusting
  • Cold
  • Impulsive
  • Stubborn
  • Self-centered
  • Brave
  • Patient
  • Impatient
  • Wise

Like the good guy, there’s more that I could list, but these first popped into my head.

Notice that some traits are the opposite of the good guy’s, but some are the same. For example, brave is a common trait because no matter what you do (evil or not) they need to have the guts to carry through with it. I also put “patient” and “impatient” depending on the type of bad guy. I believe it can go either/or, or just one.

Their motivation

What’s the ultimate goal for any bad guy? They want to get what they want. They try to get that in any way they can whether it’s kidnapping a princess or trying to take over the world, among other ways.

Who is right?

The good guy and the bad guy

A key to creating good guys and bad guys that exist together in the same novel is that they should have a few things in common. One major thing they should have in common is that they both believe they’re the good guy.

Both of their reasons for doing what they do are both right. You yourself might not agree so, but both characters must whole-heartedly believe their the good guy, they’re doing the right thing.

Perspective and Opinion

The author may have the good and bad outlined in their mind as they write the story, but ultimately the reader will decide.

Everyone who reads has a different opinion about what they’ve read. They either like it or don’t like it. They either agree with it or they don’t agree with it. They also have a different perspective. You might think something in the book means one thing, but your friend might interpret it differently. And everyone has a different theory about something.

In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!

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Posted in Writing

On Quests And Adventures: Where Is Your Hero Going And Why?

We all know that a novel isn’t really a novel if the characters don’t do anything or if they don’t go anywhere. Most of the time (but also depending on the genre), the characters leave home and go on some sort of journey.

This can happen in a number of different ways.

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What’s the difference between Adventure and Quest?

Adventure is when you go on a long expedition sometimes to unknown territory. It’s exciting, a little scary, and maybe a bit bizarre.

Quest means you’re searching for something or someone. I guess you could say it’s like an adventure, but with more meaning behind it.

Why would your protagonist go on an adventure or quest?

So many things can happen to the main character in a story that begins the plot, that causes the protagonist to move forward.

  • A stranger comes and asks for help
  • Someone they know and is close to asks for help
  • They get a message from someone somewhere
  • They’re adventurous and go off on their own running into the heart of the story
  • A threat is being made to someone, something, or somewhere and they must try to fix it
  • They may not journey anywhere. Someone may journey to them and they go from there

Anything that would cause your protagonist to jump out of their seat and go is a reason for them to go on an adventure.

Of course, they may not even want to go on the adventure and they have to be forced or convinced to get going. I think that makes everything more interesting.

For example, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins doesn’t want to go on a journey. He’s perfectly happy staying at home, away from everyone else. They have to convince him and he even passes out in the movie. (I can’t remember if he passed out or not in the book. It’s been a while.)

Meanwhile, in Disney’s latest film, Moana, Moana wants to go on an adventure, but everyone stops her. It’s not until something drastic happens that she decides to go against everyone and just go.

Some characters have that sense of adventure and others don’t. Which trait is your character likely to have?

Where do they go?

They can go anywhere.

They can go to the other side of the state, to the other side of the country, to a new country, or halfway around the world. Or, they can even go to a different time, if that’s what’s needed for your story and genre.

Or, as I said earlier, someone could journey to your protagonist. In which case, your protagonist’s home could be the destination. Together, they search deeper in their town or village for whatever the stranger needs or wants.

In conclusion

Writing about adventures and quests is a lot of fun. It adds more depth and meaning to the story and allows you explore who your characters really are. You find out what they would do in certain situations and you discover things about them you wouldn’t normally see if they had just stayed at home and continued to go to work every day.

Of course, I think this depends on the genre as well. If you’re writing fantasy, someone is bound to go somewhere. If you’re writing a high school drama, not too much is going to happen other than the occasional college visit.

What do you think of adventures and quests? Do you typically write them? What other advice do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 148: Dance

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            Melissa had no idea how awesome Dylan was until she had asked him to go to the school dance with her. Dylan immediately said yes nodding his head excessively like a puppy all too excited to go for a walk around the block.

“You’re taking Dylan?” Melissa’s friends had asked in disgust.

“I can’t believe you would do that to yourself.”

“There’s a reason no one asked him to go. No one wants him there.”

Melissa stood in her bedroom looking at herself in her full-length mirror that hung on the inside of her closet door. She had decided to wear a turquoise dress that flowed just below her knees. The straps hugged the curve of her shoulders to be considered tank-top like, but like a t-shirt at the same time. Either way, she had a pale orange shawl to drape around herself in case a teacher called her out on it.

“Knock, knock.”

Melissa looked over her shoulder before turning her attention back to herself in the mirror. “Hey, Mom.”

“Oh, Melissa, you look beautiful! As soon as you’re ready I want to get your picture, okay?” her mother cooed right behind her.

Melissa smiled. “Yeah, I figured Mom.

“Dylan is going to absolutely love this on you!”

“You don’t even know Dylan.” Melissa turned her body away from the mirror and looked at her mother skeptically.

Her mother shrugged. “Yes, I know. But how could anyone not like the way you look right now?”

Melissa couldn’t help but smirk. Then she looked down at the ground sheepishly.

Her mother pursed her lips together deep in thought. Then she pointed to Melissa’s bed and gave her daughter a gentle push towards it.

Melissa obeyed, even though she had no idea what her mother was doing. Once she made it over to her bed, her mother pushed her shoulders down to make her sit.

“What’s wrong?” Melissa asked.

“I was about to ask you the same thing.” Her mother said, sitting down beside her. She put a hand on Melissa’s back and rubbed it in small circles. “You were so excited for this dance and then, over time, you seemed to lose interest in it.”

Melissa sighed turning the other way. She didn’t mean to have her mother notice.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I thought maybe you were nervous. I also thought that by putting on this gorgeous dress, all your worries would disappear because… Well, look at you!” she exclaimed.

Melissa laughed.

“And I’m not just saying that because I’m your mother.”

“You are because you have to.”

“Am not,” her mother scoffed. “Dylan is going to think the exact same thing.”

Melissa remained silent.

“Did something happen between the two of you? Is he not taking you to the dance anymore for some reason?” her mother then gasped interrupting herself. “Oh, no, did another girl ask him out and decided to go with her instead leaving you dateless?”

Melissa looked up at her mother and cracked a small smile. Her mother’s mind sure did love to wander. “No,” she chuckled. “It doesn’t have anything to do with Dylan.” She paused to think about it. “Well, actually, I guess it does have to do with Dylan.”

Melissa stood up and paced in circles around the middle of her bedroom. Her feet were already aching from her silver three-inch heels and the dance didn’t even start for another 45 minutes.

“My friends aren’t going to be hanging out with us at the dance tonight. It’s just going to be me and Dylan.” Melissa began. “And don’t get me wrong, I want to hang out with Dylan. Otherwise I wouldn’t have invited him,” Melissa drew in a deep breath and turned to face her mother. “I asked Dylan because he doesn’t have any friends. When our homeroom teacher mentioned the dance, everyone signed up to contribute except for him because he said he wasn’t going. None of the girls asked him.”

Melissa’s mother rolled her eyes. “See, this is why I hate these kinds of dances. It doesn’t matter whether you have a date or not, or who asks you or doesn’t ask you. As long as you’re there with your friends, happy, and have a good time, then that’s all that matters.”

“I know,” Melissa agreed nodding her head, “and I think Dylan should be able to go and have a good time as well. That’s why I asked him to go with me. I figured he could hang out with my friends.”

“That was very nice of you, Melissa.” Her mother smiled and then slowly nodded with her lips pursed again. “But, if I’m going to take a wild guess, I’d assume that you didn’t ask your friends about this first and now they’re mad because they don’t want to hang out with Dylan?”

“They’re not mad I invited him. They thought it was nice of me to include him because he’s such a loser.”

“Melissa, that’s not a nice thing to say at all!”

“Those are Laura’s words, not mine.” Melissa defended herself with her hands up in the air. She then relaxed her body and continued. “Even though they thought it was nice of me, they don’t feel the same way about including him.”

“So they think he should go to the dance as long as they don’t have to hang out with him?” her mother asked.

Melissa nodded.

“That’s stupid.”

Melissa shrugged.

The doorbell rang from downstairs and Melissa’s father called up to them announcing Dylan’s presence. Melissa sighed as her mother called back down saying they’ll be there in a minute.

“Rule number one, girls take a long time to get ready. Don’t be surprised if Melissa goes into the girls’ bathroom a lot at the dance.”

Melissa’s mouth gaped open as she overheard her father talking to Dylan downstairs. Her mother rolled her eyes.

“I’ll get him for that later,” she said casually, “Anyway, you asked Dylan to the dance and that was a very nice thing of you to do. I’m sure he’s super excited that a girl asked him and he’s able to go.”

“He is. You should have seen the way he agreed to go with me.” Melissa laughed.

“Then he’s the kind of person you want to be hanging out with at this dance. Someone who will have fun, someone who will be with you through the whole event,” Her mother explained. “You don’t want to be hanging out with your friends anyway if they’re going to complain the entire time. Don’t let them bring you down you’re all there to have fun. Besides, I’m sure your friends will notice the wonderful time you’re having with Dylan, they’ll feel left out, and come over and join you. Then they’ll see how great Dylan is too.”

Melissa stood straighter taking in her mother’s advice. She nodded in agreement.

“Ready?” her mother asked.

Melissa smiled. “Ready.”

She and mother walked down the stairs, her mother a few steps in front of her. She introduced herself to Dylan giving him a hug. Melissa giggled noticing Dylan stiffen awkwardly. That was the thing about her parents, they were extremely welcoming, but it was always to the point that it was smothering the new guests. Then again, Melissa would rather that than them being too skeptical about the people she brought home.

“Wow,” Dylan’s jaw dropped, “you look pretty. I mean, beautiful. Well, gorgeous. I mean… You look good.”

Melissa was flattered and embarrassed at the same time. She pressed her lips together to hold in her laughter at his nervousness. She then nodded her head and managed to mutter a, “thank you.”

She then cleared her throat and pointed to him. “You look very handsome yourself.”

Dylan rubbed the back of his neck turning the other way. “Not really, it’s my older brother’s suit…” he looked down at his other hand which held a bouquet of tulips. He held it out to her.

“Oh, yeah, I got you these. I couldn’t find a corsage that matched your dress, so I… Well, I matched your dress with my tie!” Dylan interrupted himself and pointed to his tie. Then he lifted up the ankle of his suit pants. “And my socks, too,”

Melissa giggled at the bright turquoise socks.

“I think the socks are more aqua than turquoise, but… Oh, the flowers!” Dylan dropped his pant leg down again and held out the bouquet. Melissa took them gratefully.

“Tulips?” she asked.

“I noticed you have a couple of notebooks covered with pictures of tulips. I thought they might be your favorite?” he asked.

“They are,” Melissa nodded.

“Great!” Dylan grinned ecstatic.

Melissa picked out a rose in the middle of the tulips. “Where did this one come from?” she held it up only to realize that it was fake.

“Oh, I couldn’t find any fake tulips, so I had to get a rose.” Dylan explained.

Melissa titled her head to the side still confused.

Dylan drew in a breath and pointed to the rose. “The tulips, as beautiful as they are, are going to die within a week or so. The rose will stay forever and you can always remember the night. Well, hopefully you’ll want to remember the night.” He chuckled and turned the other way nervously again.

Melissa couldn’t help but keep a goofy grin on her face. She couldn’t believe Dylan would do something like this for her, especially since they barely knew each other at all.

“This is the least I could do for you taking me under your wing. I’ve never been to a school dance before.” Dylan admitted. “I want to make the night really special for you in return. Also because I, well, I know that your friends may not be hanging out with us tonight.”

Melissa stiffened. “What makes you say that?”

“They told me so.”

“What?!”

“Don’t worry I’m not here to start any drama.” Dylan put up his hands defensively. “They came up to me the other day and told me that it was either me or them. I told them that it was up to you, but you had asked me so I wasn’t going to back out on you.”

Melissa felt her face grow hot. She wasn’t sure if it was due to being embarrassed or angry. She figured it was probably a mixture of both.

“They told me that I was going to ruin your night and I told them that I was going to give you the best night.” Dylan paused for a moment. “I mean, that’s not why I gave you the flowers and stuff… I was planning on doing that anyway.”

Melissa shook her head a little trying to take in everything. She couldn’t believe that her friends would be so cruel to actually try to tell Dylan off like that. Sure, he was a loner, but he was a great guy. They was no reason no one should not like him.

“Well,” Melissa glanced back at her mother real quick before looking back at Dylan, “we’re going to the dance to have fun and get to know each other better. If my friends see what an awesome time we’re having and want to join, they can. Otherwise, I’m all yours for the night.”

Dylan frowned. “You should hang out with your friends, too.”

“I will be.” Melissa replied.

Dylan hesitated, but then smiled as soon as he realized what Melissa had just said. He held out his arm for Melissa to take. “Shall we?”

Melissa smiled and linked her arm in his. “Let’s get this party started.”

After giving her parents a quick wave, Melissa and Dylan walked through the front door and down the walkway to Dylan’s old car.

“Wow,” Melissa heard her dad say to her mother, “that guy is good!”

“Shush,” her mother hissed, “how many times do I have to tell you to start talking after we close the door or they’re out of sight?”

Melissa looked at Dylan as he opened her car door for her. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“Nothing,” she smiled and sat down in the passenger seat.

Words: 2,031

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below.

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Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

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Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Published:
September 2016, Graphix
Genre: Young adult graphic novel
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

My Review:

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I’ve read Smile and Drama by Raina Telgemeier and enjoyed both of those graphic novels a lot. When I found out she had come out with another, Ghosts, I was excited. I love Telgemeier, graphic novels, and ghosts (despite how easily spooked I get). So, I definitely had to pick this one up.

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We follow two sisters, Cat her little sister, Maya. Maya has cystic fibrosis so their family moved to a new town as the salty sea air would help Maya’s lungs. I absolutely loved both girls, Cat being the protective and worrisome older sister and Maya being a child, carefree and innocent, not bothering to let her illness stand in her way.

Both characters easily made this book enjoyable and they both developed quite nicely throughout the story, despite how short it is.

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Day of the Dead is approaching in their new town. Maya is intrigued, Cat is scared. Cat doesn’t like ghosts while Maya loves them. However, we don’t know the reason as to why until near the end of the story. The reason why brings the story full circle and really brings out both of their personalities.

Cat tries to keep the ghosts away while Maya keeps trying to speak to them. For spoiler reasons, I’ll let you speculate why that is, but you should just read the book for yourself.

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The pictures really make the story what it is. The dialogue is great, but I really do enjoy the pictures more so. There are many pages where there’s no dialogue at all. Pictures really are worth one thousand words and that’s true in this story.

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Ghosts is a super quick read being a little over 200 pages, but being a graphic novel I read it in 30 minutes. I laughed, I cried, I was intrigued by the whole ghost scene. It’s a sweet book about sisters and an interesting message about death. It’s definitely worth a read for everyone.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier gets…
5-stars5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“I guess it’s hard not to feel good when you’re surrounded by so much life!” –Raina Telgemeier, Ghosts

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Posted in Cover Reveal, Reading/Book Reviews

Cover Reveal: Frozen Flames by Lara Whatley

I’ve had the pleasure of helping author Lara Whatley with the cover reveal of her latest novel, Frozen Flames. This novel is a young adult science fiction and fantasy due for release in June 2017.

My Thoughts:

My favorite color is blue, so anything blue is appealing to me. I love the crack that extends in all directions of the cover showing that something is amiss or broken. According to the blurb (which is down below), things aren’t exactly “normal” anyway. This was a great way to show that.

Plus, the gold spiral symbol in the middle makes you question what that is, what it means, and what it does. It gives more meaning to the cover, to the book itself, making you question what the story is actually about.

Also, the title looks embedded in the ice. For example, the “F” in “Frozen” is staggered a bit as though it’s cracked as well, which I think is a cool effect.

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Blurb:

Lexi would give anything to have those minutes back-the minutes when she’d stood inside the fence, waiting for the clock to tick down on that stupid dare. If she hadn’t stayed-hadn’t gone in the first place-she wouldn’t be in this mess.

But she had, and she was. And now things were different.

Very different.

When you wake up one day with a whole range of new abilities, life gets interesting quick. You can fly, disappeared, and shoot deadly flames from your finger tips. Suddenly, being an orphan who’s forced to live at your high school seems like no big deal. Now your biggest worry is that people have started to notice. And they won’t seem to leave you alone.

For Lexi, navigating this new world is no easy task. Can she control her abilities? Whom can she trust? Has she said goodbye to ‘normal’ forever?

Add Frozen Flames to your Goodreads shelf

About Lara Whatley:

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Born and raised in the rolling horse country of southern Ontario, Lara Whatley has always had a passion for reading. As soon as she could, she was writing short stories, and then her first novel. She published her debut novel in 2014, and is continuing to pursue her passion. When not writing or reading, Lara can be found in the great outdoors with her two dogs and imagination.

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Posted in Writing

On Rescues And Escapes: Run, Character, Run!

Rescue and escape seem to go hand-in-hand. If someone is captured, they can either save themselves and escape or someone will have to rescue them and everyone has to escape together.

This is a common theme in most novels since a lot of plots, depending on the genre, has the good guy versus bad guy thing going on.

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What is Rescue and Escape?

Rescue can be a number of things:

  • The hero is rescuing another major or minor characters
  • The hero is rescuing himself
  • A major or minor character is rescuing the hero

There are a few more scenarios, but those, I think, are the most common.

Escape is a bit more simple as someone is trying to get away from a person or a place (or a thing, I guess).

Why is this important?

When a character has to rescue someone else or escape someone or someplace, that means there’s some sort of danger. There’s something on the line whether it’s a life or something the character is fighting for.

Bringing this sense of danger advances the plot forward. How are the characters going to get out? What’s going to happen to them before they escape? Are they even going to be able to escape? Who will come rescue them?

Not only that, but it gets the reader’s heart racing if done the right way.

Is this a side-theme or a theme on its own?

This depends on your genre.

If you’re writing an adventure novel, then chances are rescue and escape is going to be a pretty large component of your plot.

For example, if you’re writing something along the lines of Super Mario Bros. (sorry, I have video games on the brain) then that’s the whole plot right there. Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser (bad guy) and Mario (good guy and hero) has to save her. Then there are side games such as Luigi’s Mansion in which case Mario is kidnapped and Luigi is the hero in that story.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be the major theme of the novel. Throw a rescue mission in the middle of the novel to add a little something to the plot. It keeps the story going and doesn’t let the readers lose interest. It adds conflict but doesn’t completely overshadow the plot.

In Conclusion

I think rescue and escape is a fun theme to explore. It’s been done over and over again to the point that it seems cliche, but there’s a lot you can do with it and it keeps things moving at a steady pace.

What do you think of rescues and escapes in novels? Have you written them in your novels? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Writing

On Themes: How To Incorporate Time In Your Novels

Time is weird. It flies by when we’re having fun, yet the weeks drag on. Something can happen in the blink of an eye, yet certain situations seem to last forever. We wish we had more time in the things we do, but we always waste the time we have.

When it comes to talking about time in our novels, it’s not exactly as easy as you would think.

Time, in my opinion, is probably a theme in every novel you’ve written or read. It may not always be noticeable, but think about it: everything that happens, happens in time.

Time can either be used for or against the protagonist. Time can just be present because… well, time is always present no matter what. Time can be subtle, time can be noticed. There are a lot of different ways you can use time in your novels whether you’re advancing the plot or you’re just making your world feel that much more realistic.

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Transition

Probably one of the most common forms of time in novels is transitions, or changing scenes. You can change scenes by ending and starting a new chapter or using a page break such as (*) before beginning the next paragraph.

Transitions can do a lot of things:

  • Change the POV
  • Warp to a new location
  • Allow time to pass

Changing the POV may not necessarily mean time has passed, but then again I don’t think you would rewrite the same scene in the same time and space just through the eyes of a different character. I feel like that would be redundant, but who knows? Maybe it’s been done.

When you go to a new location, chances are you’re changing the time. It takes time for your character to get to one place to another. Unless you’re writing fantasy with interesting world rules, your characters can’t teleport instantly.Of course, there’s also changing locations to look at different characters doing something different at the same time your characters were doing their thing. Of course, you’d just be showing off time in a different space.

Of course, there’s also changing locations to look at different characters doing something different at the same time your characters were doing their thing. Still, you’d just be showing off time in a different space.

Then there’s letting time pass through. Is it the next day? The following week? Maybe two years had gone by. The point of changing scenes to let time pass is to give the reader a sense that life went on, but nothing too important happened that the reader has to know.

Waiting

How much of our lives are spent waiting? We wait in line at the grocery store, we wait at red lights on our way to work, we wait for the doctor to see us, and we wait for our future, for our lives to finally begin. (That was a bit dramatic, I know, but I’m leaving it in there.)

In order for the plot to move forward, your characters just have to wait in line like everyone else. Writing a mystery? You have to wait for the autopsy to come back. Writing fantasy? You have to wait for that special potion to brew.

Waiting is what advances the plot. What does your character do in that time of waiting? Maybe he doesn’t want to wait at all and makes some rash decisions.

Flashbacks and Flashforwards

Writing flashbacks and flashforwards are probably the most tricky ways of telling time in novels. You should only use these forms if your novel really needs it–if it helps the reader gain certain information and advances the plot.

Flashbacks should only be used once in a while and should only show one quick scene or plot point that goes along with your theme and plot.

By writing a flashback, you’re showing a different timeline that has nothing to do with what’s going on (at the time) but has everything to do with what’s happening to your characters at that present moment.

Or you could just have someone read someone else’s diary. That could work, too.

Flashforwards are hard because, depending on the genre, no one can predict the future. Those should be used scarcely or go along with the rules of your fantasy world.

Time Travel

Speaking of flashbacks and flashforwards, this is a fun way to incorporate those. Again, this depends on the genre you’re writing, but characters can have special powers or have a certain machine that allows them to date backward or forwards. Like the flashbacks and flashforwards, though, you should only use this to advance the plot.

Timeline

Now, not every story is told chronologically. Chapters can jump around from one year to the next if two different stories are being told that end up intertwined somehow.

Books can be told out of order as well. One of the major issues I’m having with my mystery series is that the cases aren’t all one right after the other, and until I get a good timeline down, I keep confusing myself.

Telling stories out of order can be pretty clever, though. It allows some mystery for the reader when the characters know something they don’t, and vice versa.

Progression

What exactly does time do for us? It helps us move forward. Healing takes time, grieving takes time, growing up takes time, everything takes time.

Something may happen to your protagonist at the age of 10, but the real heart of the plot doesn’t begin until he’s 21 or something. In other words, time has to pass to get to that moment. Are you going to write about his ups and downs at school, him going through puberty, getting his driver’s license? No, because they don’t matter.

Time passes to allow us to get to the major point of the story and to show certain aspects of our characters and setting. (Yes, setting. A lot can happen to the Earth in ten years.)

In Conclusion

Time is easy to talk about, but it can be hard to write about. Of course, time doesn’t always seem present, but it’s always lurking around somewhere.

Make sure you and your characters use their time wisely.

How do you incorporate time in your novels? Do you have any advice that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

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