Keeping an Eye on the Clock

This blog is a record of my discovery of how to write well (through trial-and-error) .

Back in April 2015 (on a forerunner blog to BenEzard.com) I wrote about trying to time my scenes properly.

When, what?

By timing I mean how long has passed in and between the different scenes of the story.

In some stories the specifics of the time aren’t relevant and the reader doesn’t need to know how much time has elapsed. In other stories though, the passage of time can be very important. For example: a classic love story where boy meets girl, they dislike each other and then do a 180 to end up madly in love. If there was no passage of time, then the plot would seem implausible. It swaps from being a acquired taste to an instant attraction which is a different story.

(I should caveat this by saying it is always better to show the passage of time than to tell the reader about it. You could tell the passage of time by a change in season, by the length of a character’s hair or a change in their age…)

Sometimes it’s important to know the passage of time. If one scene is at midnight, does it make sense that in the next scene the hero can see all the way to the horizon? Not only does time of day matter when you’re painting the scene but it can also be crucial for having the right timing and flow.

Vengeance Will Come is what I am calling a ‘fantasy adventure’; quicker-paced than an epic fantasy while still having some of the fantastic elements. Because the pace is quick it is important that I keep track of what is happening. Like an episode of 24, I need to keep track of when it is day or night.

My first attempt

My first attempt at timing in April 2015 was to use Microsoft Excel to calculate it. This was based on two complex calculations that took hours to work out (between 2-5am, I might add) . The fact that the formula was so intense should have alerted me that it was not workable. Transparency and simplicity are the pillars of great execution.

My latest attempt

My latest effort, therefore is simple.

I have created a timeline (note a 26 hour day, it is other-worldy after all) and then I can write a reminder of what happens when each hour.I’ve also marked which hours are night.

timing-snapshot

Note: this isn’t perfect because sometimes a lot of things happen within an hour slot.

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