Passage of Time

Time is one of the important elements in setting. It is important that the reader know and understand the period in which a story takes place so as to process the events.

For example, historical fiction is grounded in the past. The author must be a researcher prior to writing, to ensure that vocabulary, clothing, foods and relationships are appropriate for that period of time.

Fantasy can be in the past, present or future, depending upon how the author phrases the action. When grounded in the past, there might be druids, mages and shaman. In the present, we might encounter modern-day herbalists, mind-readers or magicians. In the future, well, who knows what we might find.

There is more to time than setting. Time also controls the speed or flow or the action. There are reasons to slow down event, such as an in-depth study of what a character is seeing or doing.

Imagine standing on a ledge looking down at the traffic below. In this scenario action slows down. We want to feel the heartbeat, listen to the shallow breathing and process, in detail, what is taking place below.

On the other hand, there are times when action speeds up. Picture a car chase, robbers leading the way followed by an army of police cars, lights and sirens blazing.

How does the author control pace? By sentence length. When you want to slow things down, sentences become more complex. Language is filled with metaphors and similes, beautiful descriptions and flowery vocabulary.

To speed things up, shorten sentences to simple phrases, often beginning with verbs. Quick thoughts. Sharp movements. Crisp action.

Your task is to create a scene and play with time. Decide whether to delve into details or to have fast-paced action. Write. Read. Does the pace seem appropriate for the story? If not, rewrite, this time choosing the alternate.

Good luck with this one.

Have fun.

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