Tuesday, April 14, 2015


As I was writing some on my new novel, I discovered something - I suck at passing time.

Most of my stories follow a single person or event over a pretty compact period.  I prefer to see what's going on from moment to moment since I wonder what I miss if I skip ahead too far.  This leads to some pretty intense stories.  Unfortunately, I can't do this in my latest work.

The novel(that I still don't have a title to) follows one man's journey over the course of over 70 years.  It starts with an alien invasion that nearly wipes out humanity, progresses towards a great counterattack, and then proceeds to follow mankind as it leaves Earth to find refuge on a new world.  The book is divided into three acts, and each act will cover between seven and eight years of time.  Obviously I can't write every single thing that happens in eight years, so I have to skip ahead if I want the novel to come in under a million words.

My challenge comes in trying to figure out how to do this.  Since I cover a great deal of detail in the action I've written so far, I worry how the transition will look.  The reader will get all of this great information and be into the story...only to suddenly find that three years have passed.  How do I get there without them asking, "What the hell?"

Many novels have figured out how to do this, and maybe it comes with practice.  I have a funny feeling that some of these transition points will receive several re-writes because the first time or five will be bumpy.  Will such space between time periods leave the audience with less feeling towards the main character?  He's the focal point of the entire thing, so if the reader loses empathy, the novel falls apart.

This may get easier in acts two and three.  Act two will entail humanity building the spaceships that lead us into the interstellar void, and I'm sure I can skip over parts of the building process without too much trouble.  After all, just how much can one talk about welding together sheets of titanium?  And the third act, the one that details our flight through space to a new galaxy, will be fine because during a lot of this journey, when they're not actively exploring a new system or running from other races in the cosmos, they'll basically be sitting around watching stars go by.

However, it's the first act that presents the greatest degree of difficulty.  The main character is building the resistance movement that strikes back at our attackers, as well as discovering what works against them and what doesn't.  It's seven and a half years of active warfare, so how do you choose what to gloss over?  War may be an abomination, but when it comes to books, it's certainly the action part.

I know, I know - I'm just whining about elitist writer problems.  Whatever I come up with won't feed hungry children or cure a disease, but it's important enough to me to spend time on.  I want to give the reader the best experience possible, one that draws him or her in to become invested in the outcome.  Getting past the 4th Dimension in a way that doesn't make them wonder what they missed is daunting.  I'll figure it out, but it'll take...um...time.

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