Author of Loving the Rain, Skeleton Key, and soon to be released Bulletproof
Jeff is an author from WORLD CASTLE PUBLISHER
Jeff LaFerney has been a language arts teacher and coach for more than twenty years.
Well, here I am after writing three books, and I’m an expert, right? Not even close…but I’ve learned a few things. I’d like to comment about what I’ve learned about time…time in the books. My first book practically was written stream of consciousness. I started and never slowed down until I was done, and then I decided to revise. What I found was that everything I changed and added to the book generated a thread of errors throughout the rest of the novel. I found that I messed the timing and chronology all up when I made some really beneficial revisions, and fixing things was difficult and frustrating. So in book number two, I kept a timeline. I wrote down a summary of each scene of the book, including a record of time. What day did it happen? What time was it? I found that I caught myself quite a few times writing things that weren’t possible or miscalculating reality. It helped me revise and maintain chronology as I went along. So when book three began, I felt I had a handle on the whole time thing. Boy, was I wrong. I kept painting myself into corners for which there was no way out. Numerous times I had to go back and rewrite scenes, add scenes, and reorder scenes so I could maintain appropriate chronology. I literally had to write down each date (even dates mentioned of things that happened in the past) and each mention of time, age, years, days, hours—even minutes. I also continued to keep note of times in the scenes as I summarized them. It was a challenge to be faithful to reality and to keep my details consistent. The end result? There were hours of frustration at times, but I had told a story for which I’m very proud. Time matters. It’s real, and it affects believability of stories and consistency of story-telling. Keeping track helped me to eliminate gaps and to be accountable to a realistic timeline. The next time you write or begin to revise, keep track…that’s my “expert” advice.