Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time Lapse

Have you ever had a timing problem in your writing? I just discovered a big one, and I’m very glad I discovered it now, rather than after the book went to print.

I’m currently working on a series, the first of which is The Seduction of Esther, which came out in May. It’s a contemporary romance series with Jewish themes. Each book in the planned series takes place around a different Jewish holiday. No, the holiday isn’t what makes it a romance, the relationship between the hero and heroine makes it a romance (that, and the guaranteed happily-ever-after ending), but the holiday gives it a Jewish flair and anchors the story in a particular time of year.

The Seduction of Esther took place around the holiday of Purim, a joyous holiday where people dress up, act out the story of how the Jews in Persia were saved by Esther and drink a lot of wine. The next book in the series is going to take place around the holiday of Passover, a holiday that commemorates the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt.

When I started writing the sequel, I planned for the story to take place over the space of six weeks. For some reason, in my mind, that’s a workable amount of time for two people to fall in love. I’m sure there are ways to make it take longer or to happen faster, but I tend to like six weeks. Plus, that time frame worked well for the heroine’s career and for planning for the holiday.

But the other day, as I was drifting off to sleep—the time I do my most productive thinking about my writing—I started wondering something. Exactly how long is it between Purim and Passover, between book one and book two. The next day, when I woke up, I looked at the Jewish calendar for a couple of years, and much to my dismay, found that it’s exactly a month between the two holidays.

Uh oh.

Now, just like the regular calendar has a leap year, the Jewish calendar has one too, except that its leap year is actually a leap month, where every once in a while, an entire extra month is built into the calendar. So I contacted a religious friend I know to ask her if by some miracle, the leap month occurred between my two holidays—if it did, there would be some years with two months between the holidays, rather than one, and my timeline would work. Alas, it doesn’t.

I can’t have a second book take place before my first one, when the rest of the storyline is taking place in chronological order (and when I have the hero and heroine from the first book continue their story in the second book)! Granted, non-Jewish readers wouldn’t know, but Jewish ones would! It’s the equivalent of putting modern day slang in a historical romance novel.

The easiest way to fix the timing problem is to make this story take place one year after the first book. It allows the relationship between the recurring characters to develop further and it enables me to maintain my six-week timeframe, which really works well.

So, now I’m off to fix all the time issues that have come up throughout the book. When I’m all finished, I’m making sure my critique partner double checks to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

Tell me, do you notice time lapses?


  1. I think you're probably better putting the year between the two novels, unless you want to shorten the time for the two characters to fall in love in the second novel. I've had characters falling in love in less than six weeks, but I think it depends on how often they actually meet. If it's only, say, once a week, then obviously it would take longer than if they saw each other every day.

  2. I have focused on historicals, so I have to be acutely aware of times, dates, places, culture, living conditions, language, etc., in my chosen time frames.
    So yes, timing is everything.

    I think a year later will work well for your second book of the series.
    Good catch!