One of my earliest fiction writing lessons was that my characters were like the Brady Bunch. They didn’t have to have seven days in their week, nor did they need a bathroom. Or real grass.
What I mean is, even though women’s fiction encapsulates portions of real life and real emotions, we only need what’s pertinent to the characters stories. And we don’t miss the rest. So, no flossing unless your main character is a hygienist. Or OCD. No lunch because it’s lunch time. We can skip Tuesday! Or even all of 1997!
In fiction, we are the supreme and ultimate managers of time.
A excellent example of a book that is completely fulfilling, with nothing missing, yet that carefully constructs the story throughout time, is Randy Susan Meyer’s The Murderer’s Daughters. When I read it, this astounded me. Years pass in this book yet we miss nothing. It’s masterful. Reading it helped me tweak my own novel and feel confident in not accounting for, or making excuses for, missing days, weeks and months that did not matter to the story.
In fiction, characters might be crazed, overwhelmed, in love, troubled, ill, pensive, aloof — but we write only in what enhances and alters a character arc, a plot line, some subtext.
And we write only the moments that matter.
In real life, every bit of everything that happens affects our personal writer’s story — every minute of it. We can’t skip a year. Or the bathroom.
How do you manage the time in your novel?
In my current novel the timeline is December to April. I use holidays, seasons and events to mark the passage of time. The main character’s kids play sports, so the characters often interact on weekends at games. I am very glad I learned that my characters didn’t need iCalendar or a DayTimer (I’m old!).
In real life I manage time by trying to stick to a schedule but I’m not always good at that. I try to only work during the day — but right now it’s 9:54 pm and I’m not finished for the day. (And I like to go to bed at 10, so pretty much, I’m toast.) I try to give myself Sundays off, but as some of you know, I don’t always do that either.
How about you?
I’m editing this post to add a link I think you will all enjoy. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with all of us. It’s called Steal Like An Artist. Enjoy! Oh, but pop over AFTER you comment! 😉