34

There is no problem at all with writing morally ambiguous characters, and it's surprisingly easy for readers to sympathise with them. Let us look at some examples: First, a modern example: A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R. Martin. There was a character in the first book of the series, who had all those honourable values, in particular he was averse to lying, ...


33

What sort of time period are we looking at? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Over a period of hours, it's going to be things like the angle of shadows (how high in the sky the sun is), the temperature, et cetera. At days, it comes down to water breaks: a dead slave is worth no money, so they need to be given something to drink occasionally. Are the ...


21

It is probably not going to be possible to keep your readers aware of the time and date all the time, at least not in an organical manner. However, with regards to telling the timeline, it doesn't matter until your plots converge. And then we know "what day it is" because your characters are in the same scene, or one character's actions cause effects for ...


20

What does the time spend hiding do to your character? Pick things that start off easy to manage, but becomes hard to maintain (especially under stress or pressure), and talk about those. For example, if they are squeezed into a wardrobe, staying as still as possible: As the villain paced the room, she shivered in her hiding spot. Every time he walked out ...


18

I think it's mostly a modern delusion that ethics today are dramatically different than they were in the past. Yes, ancient Persia routinely tortured political prisoners. So do modern China and North Korea and many Arab countries. Modern Americans pride themselves on equal rights for women. Yet the US has never had a female president, while many ancient ...


16

I found using dates/hours gets hard to track for the readers. They get ignored and the reader gets confused by the time skip. I believe the best way is to have an overreaching "loud" story arc in the sidelines, echoes of which are accessible from every single other arc. Election campaign with scandal events unfolding in news. Celestial bodies in the sky ...


16

One possibility is to just say that time has passed. "The two men sat staring at each other, neither saying a word, for fifteen minutes." Another possibility is to fill the time with action. If the point is that it was a tense standoff, "action" here probably doesn't mean people running and fighting, but events appropriate to the situation. "Bob locked the ...


14

I can think of a few ways: 1) Cheat. This was how Tolkien did it, so you'd be in good company. He just listed somewhere in the appendices that "Year 5798 by Gondor's calendar = 144 Shire Reckoning" and let the readers do the math. 2) Make the characters work out a solution. If you have characters on Terra and characters on Pluto who meet, they're going to ...


11

Once a physics professor told me that we, in daily life, measure distance with time. In fact he is right. If somebody aks - "how far away is the mall?", we answer "It's fifteen minutes away". That means that measures are always relative to normal everyday standards, not scientific ones. In old days, moon or sun was a good way to measure time: "It will ...


11

Question: How to tie 'choppy' short scenes together? Answer: Tie them together with an overarching 'internal journey' that defines this character uniquely and carries through all the lessons. It sounds as if you are concerned about the lengths of your scenes, and also the choppy feel of them. You've compared your character's situations to Rowling's ...


10

"how to cleanly change time scale and avoid making a somewhat jarring break in temporal continuity?" Gradually. You are allowed to suddenly shift speed of passage of time only at * * * section breaks. The speed of passage of time between paragraphs must be gradual, at least one paragraph per speed. Paragraph of second-by-second, paragraph of few ...


10

If you start a new scene, the reader will know that something has changed. In a manuscript, you indicate a change of scene by putting a pound sign (#) or three asterisks (* * *) on a line by themselves (and optionally centered on the line). That's called a scene break. Readers know that a new scene generally indicates a change of time, place, viewpoint, or ...


10

The first thing to remember is that realism is just a style. If historical accuracy is hurting your story, let it go. Even historical fiction isn't "history." In particular, it can be enough to hint at alien value systems without wallowing in them --enough to give the flavor of the times, but not enough to make the whole thing distasteful. To be blunt, ...


10

Changes of light, of temperature, of weather, of season. Unremembered wear in clothing, the healing of wounds, loss of physical condition. Hair longer than ever before. Sudden brutal grooming from the captors and subsequent regrowth. Being let out to push a wagon out of mud. Sickness in the camp. Raiders, fended off. Capture by the raiders, and subsequent ...


9

How much do you suppose that your fantasy world resembles our own world? And how much do you want to deal with made-up units of measure? I don't suppose that the people in a fantasy world would speak English, but fantasy novels written for an English-speaking audience normally have all dialog in English. Perhaps you could explain that by saying that the ...


9

five and a half years No hyphens. Hyphens are for adjective phrases: It was a five-and-a-half-year journey. You also don't use the hyphen with the fraction. 51⁄2 years


9

Assuming that your characters relationship with the past is similar to your own, look back through historically significant events until you find one that feels old enough but not too old. Also consider which aspects of our society make up the history you are looking at, because different types of memories age at different rates. For example, the days ...


9

Constraints! I would be interested in both; the historically accurate vs the "alternative history" or "general past" setting. I'd also suggest there is a spectrum; at least I see it that way in my own writing. In both cases, the advantages and disadvantages arise from constraints. Or as you said, "limitations." Is it possible ...


8

I understand your concern; minutes at least are very much a reflection of an age of clockwork and in a world with no such machines detailed measures of time jar the reader. I don't know the exact setting of your world, by which I mean that if it's medieval that allows for wildly different tech to if it's Aztec, but here are a few general suggestions: Hour ...


8

One way to show passage of time is by referring to time-based events. Over the course of a year you can use seasons for this; if we see your characters walking through the snow, and next see them walking through the fall leaves, we know that at least half a year has passed. For multi-year spans, look for milestone events: a graduating student who we last ...


8

There are three ways you can deal with long journeys. First, skipping time is a time-honoured tradition. If nothing happens during the time of travel, you can just skip it. It is quite common to read things like: They have been travelling for two weeks when... or On the third day of their journey... Second, if you don't want to skip all the travel ...


8

Start with the present It's common practice (for good reason) to introduce a long-lived character into the actual story you're actually interested in, and just gradually fill in what's necessary about the long history. Less-defined history gives you flexibility I'm not saying don't foreshadow - but a character with hundreds of years of only vague history ...


8

I think this sounds like a strong concept for a book I would like to read. But I also think your question is disguising a deeper issue --your prologue is giving away things you seem to want to keep hidden. If a character is considering time travel, and then everything is suddenly different, most readers of speculative fiction will connect the dots right ...


8

My favorite way to pass time to to make the characters get lost in their thoughts. What was that? A floorboard creeking? It must just be a mouse. At least Jim hoped it was. It wasn't supposed to end this way... ever since he sold the doughnuts to Sally, she had begun to suspect that they were running an underground operation. Doughnuts. How could he have ...


7

Your example is kind of a bad one for this situation. If we did this, then, the movie like castaway would only be about 20 minutes long. Shows him being stranded, skip his surviving on the island, and then he is saved. You still want to designate time progression and time skipping without killing the important parts. Make each chapter an event that ...


7

Does he have any friends there? One solution is to push the training camp into the background. The problem sounds like you don't have enough conflict, your scenes come up short. I'd focus on some relationships, perhaps a competitive one with friends, but you can have a conversation while these things are going on. Get some perspective on the character, ...


7

I'm dealing with some similar problems, on a smaller scale. The first third of my novel is composed of short chapters that move the story along. All the emphasis is on getting to the main location. Then they're there. Suddenly their days and nights become repetitive and wearying. This is part of the learning experience and something they need to go ...


7

Depends. If it's a one-off indication, you should introduce it as prose: "It was 9 P.M. on a Sunday in Los Angeles..." But I assume that's not the case, maybe you're writing a thriller, and you're going to point out the changes in location explicitly multiple times during narration, like X-Files does. If that's the case, then I would introduce the change ...


7

Tense and second-person aside, you should handle this just as you would any other transition. Set the scene, reflect on the past, and then summerise the outcome. I'd do something like this: You put your tools back into the bag and look out over the yard. The twins are giggling at some secret joke. They remind you of Alice and Jane. For a moment you wonder ...


7

I think George R. R. Martin does this quite well in his various novels. A good few characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are locked up at some point, and GRRM always dedicated a good couple of pages at least to hammering home how long they've been in captivity. These chapters often deal with the mental toll of being confined to a place with no brain ...


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