View Full Version : Time Traveler rough draft

February 5th, 2012, 10:20 PM
On January 31, 2011 I was driving home from work and thing I know Iím in the past. I get out of the car and buy a newspaper. I am shocked to see I am in 1936 of the same day. Earlier that day I was at home with my wife and kids. As I drove to work at Middlesex County College things seemed out of place. I was wearing a red shirt, blue tie, and a gray suit. Back in 1936 I find myself in a world that is half black and white and half color. As a Professor of History I recognize that my simple suit from 2011 is now a drape cut suit and tie. While grocery shopping I meet a woman named Maria. We talk about everything except the fact I am from the future. I fall in love with Maria.

I'm not sure how to continue or expand this. This is just rough draft.

February 6th, 2012, 12:13 AM
That can't be a rough draft Ö what you really did was jot down a few ideas, right?

Seriously, take your time and write the story like you mean it. Give us something to work with.

The Jaded
February 6th, 2012, 01:20 AM
A rough draft is usually a full length early version of your piece that demonstrates the structure and flow you have in mind. A paragraph of summary, while a good place to start in many writing processes, is not a story, and we can't help you get from one to the other.

February 6th, 2012, 01:56 AM
I'm having trouble forming a complete story.

February 6th, 2012, 02:03 AM
Then … are you an aspiring writer? Are you afraid to try, or have you decided that you can't do it? You can't be a writer if you convince yourself that you can't write.

February 6th, 2012, 02:25 AM
I guess you can call me an aspiring writer. I also guess I am having trouble because the basic plot was told to me by my dad.

The Jaded
February 6th, 2012, 05:51 AM
I've discovered that it is infinitely harder to write someone else's plot than your own. If you want to produce a full piece your first time, don't take a plot from someone else's imagination. Start from scratch yourself.

If you are looking for inspiration, one place it's easy to find it is in the prompts for writing competitions and contests (on this site, other websites, and in non-internet venues). Those will usually give you a small start point ("A story about undersea exploration", for example, is one prompt I wrote on last year) and you are expected to go from there. You don't even have to compete in the contest to use its prompt - you can just use it as a way to catalyze your imagination.

My opinion is, it's the wrong approach to ask someone else to make a plot for you. If it's not your plot, how are you going to be invested in it, and if you aren't invested in it how are the readers going to get engaged in it?

February 7th, 2012, 01:43 AM
I guess that's why I can't write it. My told me this plot because he wants me to write it.

February 7th, 2012, 04:07 AM
Hi Cassie,

How are you enjoying this strange Jersey weather?

Now you know why writers of adaptations get paid so darn much for doing work thatís already been done.

When I was twenty-five and had all of the tools to be a competent writer but few ideas to be a writer of fiction, (oftentimes these were incomplete) I felt the way you do Ė rather lost. A quarter century later, I donít have enough time to get all of my ideas down. Fortunately, they donít seem to leave as they did in the past.

At your age, and I did peek, I must confess. You have enough life experience to write a story of your own. Did your father suggest his plot and ask you to write it because you have few ideas, or is it that he had an idea and thought you should write it because you are so much better at writing than he is? I am unclear in this.

Generally, unless your career takes a different course, stick to your own stuff. If you need ideas from time to time, look to your own experience. This does not have to be that Ďonce-in-a-lifetime epiphanyí that you cannot share. Something ordinary will do for starters. Perhaps an experience at work: a confrontation or pleasant experience. Then so that you donít have to write in the first person and appear to be baring your soul, writing ďI did thisĒ then ďI did that.Ē Make up another name any womanís name or if youíre feeling adventurous maybe a manís name. Give him or her a personality different from yours. Now, how does this newly born person deal with the same experience? You can either plot out an ending or let one appear as you write. I prefer the story to unfold on the screen but for certain things I need to do an outline. Briefer is better in this respect. Short stories donít usually have subplots but if it is a long short piece you can include one. If you stall, take the piece off of the hard drive to some kind of storage and get the unfinished beast off of your mind. Wait at least two months and look at it again. Besides all the corrections you will now have to make upon this fresh viewing, ideas should start flowing again. If they donít flow, wait longer. In the meantime start another story. Donít get hung up on any one piece. Thatís what causes the infamous Ďwriterís block.í If itís not flowing out of you easily, itís going to stall. Keep up the process. You will find that the stories keep improving until things start looking like tight, crisp works that appear in periodicals or on e-zines. That should be a goal.

If your dad thinks you are a writer than so do I. If you work this way, there will be no Ďwriterís block .í You can expunge that thought from your mind. When you get your book deal then you can worry about it, but youíll be so jaded that you wonít mind.

Chin up Lassie,
I mean Cassie.


By the way, don't attempt SF unless you are into the hard science part. Otherwise it's just a chore and will never give you joy. Writing should be fun.

February 8th, 2012, 02:17 AM
I think my dad suggested I write it because he feels I could write it because he can't. As far the Jersey weather I'm liking it as long it's above 30-40. If it's in the 50's or higher not to high though I'm happy.

February 8th, 2012, 03:23 AM
You could do a lot with a time traveling type story. The problem, I gather, is that you don't know where to take it. My advice, find yourself an antagonistic force. Is it him trying to return to the future, or is there something else afoot in the past? From there, you can create a protagonist that meshes with the antagonist well, someone who struggles, but can overcome the obstacles in one way or another. Use your own imagination, think of all the different ways the story could go. The thing that helps the most is to take soem scrap paper, doodle out designs, scribble down ideas, think of characters, character interactions, etc.

February 8th, 2012, 02:11 PM
Hi again,

Itís cold this morning. Woo!

Well, since you seem to intend to pursue this, I would say, first of all that you should understand some things about the theory of time travel. The reader is going to want to know how the protagonist got back to 1936. Is it technology? In this case you have to address time machine technology conjecture. Is it an outside force? Godís hand, aliens, time warp ripple or what have you. If itís pure fantasy than you could just dump him in the past but if you never address how or why then the reader is left hanging. Donít do that. You will also have to look into a critical paradox of time travel into the past: the Grandfather Paradox. I will let you look that up.

Now, what was happening in 1936? Here in the U.S., our country was in the midst of a depression. Germany violated the Treaty of Versailles by marching into the Rhineland, (territory it lost its right to occupy militarily.) and I believe had stopped paying war reparations. (you have to look that all up) A memorable event that you can bring up to the reader is the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, where Jessie Owens shocked the world. The more you know about 1936, the more you can color your story. Yes, my dear, you have to work. Research is something that any writer worth his or her salt does.

Since you are a little lost, just like the protagonist. I am going to leave you with a concept. I am not going to suggest a plot. I could do that but it wonít help you develop as a storyteller. Assuming that the he is alone in his adventure, (perhaps he is not: hint) what unique advantage does he have over the entire world? He knows what is going to happen as he is a history professor. Also, as a history professor he not only knows what happens in detail but the exact dates of the events. Now, we know that he canít bang on the front door of the Whitehouse demanding to speak to Mr. Roosevelt, but what can he do to change the horrible events that are just beginning to take place in Europe and the Pacific Rim?

Now, if war has been averted, can the protagonist get back to his wife and family in the future? This brings up more theory of time travel and alternative dimensions. You might want to look at this or you might want to leave your protagonist with the aching question: ĎHow do I get home?í

Do the research. Make sure that you have included no anachronisms. (He canít go the freezer and pop a Hot Pocket in the microwave. There are no computers. Eniac was not invented until three years later and you couldnít put it on your desktop much less your lap! It couldnít fit into most peopleís apartments of that era.) All good SF writers do this kind of research. Itís part of the job and I hope all of them love it as much as I do.

I hope that was helpful.


As I said before, if youíre not into the hard science part, then you shouldnít be writing in the genre. Donít be like Dorothy Parker who loved to bang her head against the wall because it felt so good when she stopped.

February 8th, 2012, 04:13 PM
Hi Cassie!

It is my opinion that a time travel story is one of the hardest to pull off. Jim pointed out some of the difficulties rather well. This can be overcome, but it is WORK. I have only seen a few time travel works that did it well. The movie Deja Vu is the first one that comes to my mind. It did a decent job of overcoming the difficulties. But you will need to do the explaining in your own work, in your own way to keep the savvy reader from saying "Aha! That won't work!" Give it a try, but be prepared to do a lot of thinking things through.

Best regards


February 8th, 2012, 10:12 PM
CB always gives good advice. The method of Nevermore on paper is a good one. I usually use scrap for messages I have received but obviously it works for him. As for doobles, I donít , knowbut Iím not him.



February 9th, 2012, 03:01 AM
At this point I'm not even sure if I'm going to pursue this story.

February 9th, 2012, 06:42 PM
From a technical standpoint, the most important thing to work out in a science fiction-based time travel story are the rules and limitations of the time travel itself. This will make things much easier on you as you try to tell a story based on a rather counterintuitive concept.

February 10th, 2012, 01:32 AM
At this point I'm not even sure if I'm going to pursue this story.

I hope we haven't discouraged you. I don't think anyone had that intent. I know I didn't. I believe we all just wanted to point out that if you do pursue this story, there will be some work involved. Some stories seem to write themselves, others are born kicking and screaming, resisting all attempts to bring them into line. Ultimately, you have to determine what to do. But I wouldn't let a little thing like work scare me off...

Good luck!


February 10th, 2012, 03:12 AM
Hi Cassie,

Really don't thind you should abandon the concept quite yet. Dare to expand your mind! All you have to do is come up with an appropriate plot and characterizations. Use the time gateway concept and disregard all of the theory except the Grandfather Paradox which must be addressed! Use your imagination. Remember, there are few people who can believably write about time travel. Why not make an attempt. Let your aspirations exceed your self imposed limitations and just try. If it stalls, then print out a hard copy and save it. Maybe in a few years things will happen in your life to give you the fortitude to continue the work.

Off topic: Are you a women's basketball fan? How's Rutgers doing this year? I haven't checked. I remember Don Imus's unfortunate comment a few years ago. What a shame. I believe he was prompted by his rather nasty engineer.

Don't give up the ship just yet, and whatever you do, don't scuttle it.


February 10th, 2012, 04:27 AM
I've been trying to write this story since last Jan. True I put aside for awhile but I'm still stuck.The fact that I'm stuck is what is discouraging me. As for the off topic stuff no I'm not a women's basketball fan. I have no idea how Rutgers is doing as I don't follow Rutgers if I can help it.

February 10th, 2012, 04:01 PM
I've been trying to write this story since last Jan. True I put aside for awhile but I'm still stuck.The fact that I'm stuck is what is discouraging me. As for the off topic stuff no I'm not a women's basketball fan. I have no idea how Rutgers is doing as I don't follow Rutgers if I can help it.

OK... you're stuck... I have been working on a story for 20 years... I am nearly done, just a few revisions and off it goes... I say this to say - don't give up! Let's see if we can joggle your creative juices. I sense you have only a rough understanding of the subject, which is time travel. This will be the framework of your story, but not the story itself. Your characters and plotting is the story. So let's take a look at the framework...

There are two basic thoughts on time travel, to my knowledge:

1. Time is a river. If you go back in time and alter things significantly, the present river stops flowing and a new river starts flowing from the point of interruption. The laws of unintended consequences will prevail here. The grandfather paradox, if you will. All kinds of trouble can be invented here for your characters, but in my opinion, presents a lot of complications for the writer and must be handled carefully.

2. The past is unshakable. What has happened, happened. The past will defend itself unflinchingly and will resist any and all attempts to change it. Your characters will be thrown into much turmoil trying to change the past and are met with roadblock after roadblock as the past mocks every attempt at alteration. I personally think this is the easier way to write a time travel story, since the history is already written for you. No paradox to deal with.

There may be other thoughts on the issues of time travel (most always concerning the past, time travel to the future is another ball of yarn in itself), but the two I gave you are, I think, the dominant thoughts. Now you have some framework. You have characters. Develop them by plotting them into the framework and letting them react to their circumstances.

I hope this helps.

Best regards


February 10th, 2012, 04:33 PM
I think that the why of time travel is just as important as the how. Case in point, I was watching a kids' movie, where the little guy lost his beloved father to cancer. Even though they spent time together as the father was dying, the boy didn't have enough time to really get to know him. In a moment of sadness, the boy goes to his dad's closet and puts on a pair of his dress shoes. Suddenly, he's transported to the past. He becomes his father as a boy and gets to learn more about him in the process of living his life.

I don't watch a lot of science fiction, but the premise of the movie worked for me. The fact that the shoes were acquired from a mystic Gypsy woman was kind of corny, but it was still plausible. After all, it was a kids' movie. The why of the boy's ability to time travel was based on his strong desire to know more about his dad. If you can figure out why the person in your story has traveled back in time, it will be easier to figure out how he got there.

February 10th, 2012, 10:56 PM
Thanks CB and Patskywriter it helps a lot.

February 10th, 2012, 11:38 PM
Hi, Cassie!

I really enjoy time travel stories and science fiction so this idea appeals to me. It looks like you've gotten some good advice on how to sort out your time travel so I won't touch on that but I do have another thought for you.

Who is the character in your story? Sometimes when I sort out who my main character is and what they're like the story begins to take shape more smoothly.

I hope this is something that you are still going to try, it could be a very good story once the nuts and bolts of it are all sorted out. I'd encourage you to try not to focus on where the idea came from, now that you're writing the story it's no longer Dad's idea, it's your story.

Hope to see you get inspired!


February 11th, 2012, 01:28 AM
Thanks Foxee I'm going to try.