Another Boring Blog by a Make-Believe Author

When writing my previous novels, I didn’t bother with the underpinnings. I had an idea of where the story began and where it ended, but other than that, I wrote the story as I thought of it. I didn’t pay attention to the timeline; the days flowed one into the other without regard for weekends, holidays, or phases of the moon. (If I needed a full moon, I simply wrote one in, even if it was astronomically or lunarly impossible.) Invariably, though, in the second half of the book, I would get confused as to where I was and how everything fit together, and I’d have to stop writing while I figured out the timeline. Light Bringer was the worst because I had several characters whose activities needed to be coordinated, and I couldn’t hold everything in my head or even on a written chart. I finally set up a bulletin board, wrote a brief description of each scene on a card, then arranged and rearranged them like a puzzle until I got it worked out.

To keep that from happening with my current work in progress, to be able to track the story from the first scene, last night I set up a calendar for the hypothetical year of my story — the year the world ends. Even though I will not name the year in the book (at least I don’t plan to) I decided it takes place in 2012. That gives me a year to write the book, a year to rewrite it, a year to sell it, a year for the publisher to get it ready (I can have my dreams!) and still have it take place in the near future.

Perhaps it isn’t necessary to use the calendar of an actual year, but so much of reading occurs in the subconscious. Readers register details that don’t impinge on their conscious minds; they hear echoes of duplicated words and phrases; they get an uncomfortable if they feel that events couldn’t have happened as portrayed. So, it’s best for us writers to stick with reality when possible, especially when writing fantasy. (And, in the end, aren’t all novels fantasy?)

This morning I Googled phases of the moon for 2012, wanting to make certain my moon won’t be full or new at inappropriate times. I found the chart I was looking for. I found something else, too, something I had forgotten. The Mayans believe that the world will be end in 2012. Life imitating Art? Art imitating Life? My muse (or my memory) playing tricks on me again?

If nothing else, it tells me I did the right thing by setting up the underpinnings for my story this early. If I hadn’t, I would never have made the connection, and it might add an interesting dimension to the story, consciously or unconsciously.

As to the title: I must be a make-believe author if I couldn’t couldn’t come up with a more interesting title than that. Hope I do a better job writing my book!

4 Responses to “Another Boring Blog by a Make-Believe Author”

  1. Suzanne Francis Says:

    I have to use calendars and time lines too. It really helps to keep everything on track. Also, since my book in set in a time before the combustion engine, or steam power, the only forms of transport are walking and horses. I had to rewrite several scenes after my editor pointed out that my characters could not have made their way to various places in the amount of time I gave them to travel there. Arg! My next series will be set in the time of cars, planes and trains, to be sure.

  2. Bertram Says:

    Thanks for reminding me about traveling variables when there aren’t any cars. Motor vehicles will disappear in my story, but perhaps traveling times won’t be a consideration since most familiar places will also disapper.

  3. Suzanne Francis Says:

    yes, but even so, if your characters are travelling they will physically only be able to get so far in a day, and will need extra food/water to sustain them on their trip. You will have to keep all that in the back of your mind. Also the theatre for your story will, of necessity, have to be much smaller, as people will not be able to move around, unless you give them some magic way of doing so. That is what I ended up doing in my books, a sort of inter-dimensional transfer, called gap-shifting. Kind of a deus ex machina, but it works in the story.

  4. Bertram Says:

    I’m thinking that the journey and what they learn will be a big part of the book. People will die, the hero will fall in love (reluctantly), and a kind of deus ex machina will be messing with them and the world, so I should be able to get them from one place to another without having to worry about a time frame. But I wll definitely keep your suggestions in the back of my mind. (Or make a note so I don’t have to keep them in my mind. It’s getting cluttered enough as it is!)


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