I am currently writing a "time-travel" themed story that is more of a first-person perspective of all involved characters, and I want it to include the before and after reactions to the "time-travel" event.

So as an example, the reader gets a look at the perspective of the time-traveler, perhaps preparing for his jump, then using a "meanwhile" jump, we look at the perspective of the audience to the time-travel event, where the time-traveler arrives.

John was uncertain about this; he'd run his tests, and everything was positive, so there shouldn't be anything to go wrong. But just like the vertigo you get when you bungee-jump, you know it's safe; they've done it time and time again so you know you aren't going to be harmed; that fear keeps you from immediately leaping. "Damn it all." He said, jammed his eyes shut, and slammed the button.

Meanwhile, on the edge of the Paleolithic-era jungle, the tribe of cavemen sat arguing (well, I say arguing, more just aggressive pointing and grunting, and drawing in the dirt) about... well, something. Nugba (that's what his mate called him) could never quite follow these arguments. He thought they were arguing about food, but Grund and Fuh seemed to be getting very personal about where it was ok to pee.

Nugba was about to shout at them to try and bring the topic back to food, when suddenly a flash of light and heat blasted from the center of the circle, and a creature dressed in black shiny rock and hide that flowed like water stood there. After the dust settled, it spoke. "Hello there, I'm John."

In that situation, "Meanwhile" kind of works, provided it's followed by the context of the situation we're jumping to, and while in my head and in the context of the story, it's technically correct, because the idea is that all time is fluid (without going into further detail; whenever you want can be now, then, earlier, later or sooner), is there another phrase(s) that could/should be used for this instead?

  • 1
    I'd go with a scene-break, like *** between sections, and leave the description to make the connection, like, "John stepped through into the paleolithic, where..." Showing is better than telling.
    – DWKraus
    Nov 17, 2020 at 1:42
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    True, but I want the flow to be maintained; that is I don't want to use scene breaks, if I can avoid it.
    – Ben
    Nov 17, 2020 at 1:51

2 Answers 2


Some suggestions that aren't 'meanwhile'

"At the time (that x was happening), our hero awoke at the first turn of a plot twist."


"Several light years away on planet X..."

"At the exact point where john was standing, but 15,000 years before that moment..."

"Much earlier -- almost 4,00 generations before -- "

"Ages before this..."


Two things you should know about time travel; 1- it's confusing sometimes. 2- its really really confusing the rest of the time.

I wouldn't use meanwhile between time jumps, or at least not to follow the time machine because where the time machine is going is probably not happening around the same time the time machine exited time. I would use 'X years before,'. BUT you seem to be doing this pretty well, so I think you using meanwhile will work well for you.

But you want substitutions, so here's a few ideas. Mostly unrelated, but this worldbuilding question might help a bit in other areas of your story.

Besides the 'X years ago', maybe you could start adding a sort of little text bit between each jump as the computer checks all the information or whatever to make sure it's working right. This could include the time it's jumping to, as well as any damages it's taken if that comes into your story at any point. If you don't like the text, maybe the time machine has a speaker it uses to tell the passengers the next stop. Might not keep the flow as it's a break in the story, but it's a thought.

Possibly whenever you do a time jump, you have to do a space jump as well to get at the right spot. Before you space jump though, you check what time you are at, correct if needed, then space jump to the part of earth you want. If you want to get really technical, then if you time travel back three months you'll be sitting in space as the earth hasn't yet gotten to that part of it's orbit yet.

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