Monday, June 17, 2013

The passage of time

I'm teaching a class on writing a category romance this month and I asked the attendees for questions they'd like to see answered in this blog.

The first question was about dealing with the passage of time.

Here's my reply...

If you've ever read any of my books, you will notice that my people fall in love quickly. Over a Christmas holiday. For the two weeks she's helping him with his baby. Or while they're stuck together in a cabin in a snowstorm.

Because the timeframe is so small, I take advantage of every 'event' to show how that impacts their feelings for each other.

That's how I use the "stuff" of every day life to show how their feelings are growing (their conflicts are being revealed and obliterated) and how they "could" fall in love in such a short period of time.

But if your characters seem to be falling in love too quickly, and you feel they need more time together to make their feelings realistic, you sometimes have to "show" the passage of time -- without every ding dang movement being on the page.

For instance, the first week of a hero and heroine (who have just met) working together, everything is important. Because they are just finding out about each other. But in the next week, if I banged the drum on everything happening in their lives it would be boring and repetitive.

So I might start a chapter with ... Two weeks later, they were still at odds over that baseball game. Or two days later, he read her most recent report and realized she'd begun to put his suggestions into action.

Or ... They ignored each other for four days, but on the fifth day she couldn't keep silent anymore.

I know. I know. That's telling. And telling usually isn't allowed. But if you only do that once or twice in a book, readers won't mind.

Another way...

May turned into June and June became July. And suddenly one day he was on her doorstep.

A lot of what you use depends upon your writing style and your voice...and your story.

But sometimes, really, you can't tell every detail of every day and you do have to say things like..."The next day..."

Happy Monday, and thanks to Margaret for her question!

1 comment:

Margaret Carroll said...

Dear Susan, I can't thank you enough for this very practical advice. For me, it's a keeper! And for anyone who isn't familiar with your online classes, I am taking one on conflict right now and learning a lot. See you in class. All best, Margaret
P.S. We share a website designer, btw! The incredibly talented, super efficient and wonderful Rae Monet.