Time Line Definition
I haven’t found much difficulty with this one. If there is a time lap at the beginning of the story I begin with a prologue, always a useful tool for scene setting.
Generally, my suspense and romantic novels are set over a short period of time, so time line definition is not needed. However, a couple did need a prologue otherwise the story would be bogged down with explanations. Never a good thing. Where it has been necessary, generally, is in the historical novels where there are definite “time” problems. It really is as Pauline indicated the writers, have to be aware that we are scriptwriters as well as camera people. We must guide our readers and ensure they are not confused.
Fortune’s Folly has a prologue, as does A Fatal Flaw. In both cases it was necessary to “set” the scene but I needed the novel to move along swiftly. The prologue must also whet the appetite and encourage the writer to read on.
There is nothing worse than reading a book and then becoming confused because you don’t know where the story has gone! It has happened to me, I do plod on but I am feeling quite irritated. Hardly the mood you want the reader to experience.