Paula looks at the problems of time lapses
I’m thinking of time lapses between significant event A and
significant event B (or in some cases between Y and Z!). Often you can jump
straight from one to the other, with a minimum of words e.g. “By the following
morning” or “A week later, she was no nearer to understanding why…” etc. Or you
can summarize the ‘in-between’ events with a paragraph which, of course, should
be relevant to the story in some way, and not a list of unconnected and/or
mundane events! I’ve read some stories (and I’m sure you have too) where the
author has taken three or four pages, or more, to tell us everything the
heroine did, from a shopping trip to baking a cake, none of which have any
relevance to the story or do anything to move the story forward.
However there are times when story line doesn’t lend itself
easily to the usual time lapse ‘techniques’ – and I’ve reached one of those
times in my current ‘work-in-progress’. I need to get from Monday evening to
Friday, but it’s one of those weeks when my gut instinct is telling me I can’t
make a simple transition. The heroine finds herself working alongside the hero,
and neither I (nor, hopefully, my readers) want them to go a whole week without
seeing some kind of interaction. So it’s not one of those times when I can simply say,
‘By the end of the week, she…’ I have to find a way to move the story forward
during this period, but not with a ‘big bang crisis’. That comes on Friday –
and it HAS to be Friday. It can’t come any earlier, because of what I already
know is going to happen at the weekend! Once I get to Friday, I know I’ll be
rolling again, but in the meantime, I have to get through the week! And I shall
do it – somehow!
I’m reminded of other times when I’ve had this problem.
Remember my Nile boatman who sang Elvis songs? He was the result of a
‘time-filler’ when it didn’t feel right just to say, ‘They went across the Nile
by motorboat’. I rely a lot on my ‘not feeling right’ instincts! In this case,
I needed the hero and heroine to interact during their Nile crossing, and
suddenly, as they walked along to where the motorboats were moored, my boatman
invented himself! Even I thought to myself, ‘Where on earth did he come from?’
In fact, he went on to play quite a big role in the rest of the story.
Another ‘filler’ came in ‘Irish Inheritance’ when Jenna goes
with her friend Charlotte (nicknamed Charley) to a hotel to discuss a themed
event the manager there wanted to hold. In truth, I only introduced this
‘change of scenery’ for some variety from them sitting at home, because while
they were there, Jenna had an important call from her agent. A small sideline
of this scene was Charley meeting the assistant manager, who later became her
boyfriend. I had no plans at that time to write another story about Charley
–that came much later, but in one sense, this scene was the background to my new story.
There have been occasions when I’ve written time-fillers,
and then deleted them. It was a case of having to write them to find out for
myself what happened. Sometimes I’ve cut them completely, sometimes I’ve found
a way to condense them, but sometimes they have provided me with a real
‘yesss!’ moment when the characters tell me something new, or there’s a
development I didn’t expect.
I’ll wait and see what happens as I write about Monday to
Friday in my current story!