word craft



What role does time play in a work of fic­tion? A book like my Fight­ing Ground is bro­ken up into time bits (not chap­ters) and lasts lit­tle more than twen­ty-four hours. The events of my recent­ly pub­lished City of Orphans occur dur­ing one week. My soon to be pub­lished Sophia’s War begins in 1776 and then jumps to 1780 for the major part of the sto­ry. That jump in time is cru­cial. Sophia goes from being a twelve-year-old girl to a fif­teen-year-old young woman. She looks, acts, and thinks dif­fer­ent­ly because of those pass­ing three years. Still, the events of her younger self have a huge impact on what she does when old­er. While not often thought about, the pas­sage of time is often a key ele­ment in a sto­ry. In a sus­pense­ful book, time itself can be the engine which dri­ves the sto­ry for­ward. Time can allow char­ac­ters to change, devel­op, grow—or decline. Con­trast how time works in nov­els and movies. Is not time in nov­els more like real time? It takes time to read a nov­el. Does the time it takes to read a nov­el add or sub­tract from the work?

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