On filling in the gaps between one scene (day) and the next (a few days later)

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Thread: On filling in the gaps between one scene (day) and the next (a few days later)

  1. #1

    On filling in the gaps between one scene (day) and the next (a few days later)

    Any thoughts/ advice on...
    So, I don't want to repeat what the characters doing for the next few days as it's the same as the previous few days, so I'm 'telling' (summing up), which I want to keep short, but also add some detail so it's not dull, and also to add some of the characters thoughts during that time (to somewhat progress the story)...
    ... I also want to add some short scenes during that time, so it's tell into show... back into tell - into show...
    I feel I need this, but I'm worrying I'm taking up space (as my screen fills up and my notebook pages get filled up), taking up space on low consequence, low yielding...
    “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” ~ John Steinbeck

  2. #2
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    A little tell in those instances is, in my view, fine as telling can cover clock time quite quickly but with a definite sense of time passing. It's just a matter of getting the style right. I often use a separated paragraph too. You know the one I mean - more space than a regular paragraph, but not quite a chapter break or a * * * . I also zoom out a little with the psychic distance, to kind of provide a camera reset into omniscient for a line or 2; eg:




    Without a word he marched over to them, throwing out his hands and pushing the youngest-looking one, a demure-looking thing with porcelain-white skin and dark, sensitive eyes, to the floor. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen. Toct drifted on.

    "You're not still doing that, are you?" Ao screamed at them before disappearing into the crowd. "Nobody does that anymore!"




    Some time later, things were getting whirled about, and Echo had seen many strange sights. At a low table interwrought with yantras and swirling elliptograms snaked through by exotic loops, a group of people puffed on a brass pipe, coughing out smoke so thick it resembled a purple dragon. They babbled nonsense words at each other.


    So there, it is a sort of scene break, with a little time-passes phrase ("some time later") and some general statements ("things were getting whirled about") plus a couple of general goings-on presented at a walker's pace before coming back to a closer POV in the here and now.

    Here is another, that covers a few days (the details are vague because it doesn't matter; just "some time"; more than an hour, less than a month):



    The women said their goodbyes, and Gaunt bade them fare-thee-well before disappearing into the greying gloom. A fresh light rain began to fall, turning the path to slush and trickling tiny rivulets between the splintered cartwheels as they rolled once more towards the city.




    Further down the road, increasing signs indicated that the attack on the Sorrow homestead had not been an isolated incident. Hushed rumours in the townships and mud-caked hamlets whispered that interlopers had been sighted, although the women saw little other than a marked decrease in the number of people about.


    In the 2nd one I use not just telling ("hushed rumours indicated")but also scenery to pass time ("further down the road") so I get some visual things that I can sort of imbue with a sense (time, in this case), so again think about what external descriptors you can use to convey the passage of time. Things travelled on are always good; rivers, roads, all that sort of stuff. Obviously it has to be contextually relevant - this would not work if the characters were not on a road to begin with, but you can take any element from where they are and use it. Clocks ticking, taps dripping, shadows lengthening, ice crystals forming on branches, the incremental cessation of birdsong etc., etc. Scenery = symbols as well as scenery = built-world detail. Anyway, I hope this helps. Ignore otherwise
    Last edited by bdcharles; September 14th, 2017 at 11:05 AM.


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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Noelle View Post
    Any thoughts/ advice on...
    So, I don't want to repeat what the characters doing for the next few days as it's the same as the previous few days, so I'm 'telling' (summing up), which I want to keep short, but also add some detail so it's not dull, and also to add some of the characters thoughts during that time (to somewhat progress the story)...
    ... I also want to add some short scenes during that time, so it's tell into show... back into tell - into show...
    I feel I need this, but I'm worrying I'm taking up space (as my screen fills up and my notebook pages get filled up), taking up space on low consequence, low yielding...
    Maybe you should post what you have in the prose workshop for specific feedback.

    In general, I don't think I'd like reading a back and forth section. I'd really have to see it, though. What I'm envisioning maybe nothing like the actual.

  4. #4
    That does help, thank you. In regards to your last paragraph I thought (you helped me think) of what could work for me - the tide rolled in to its high and crept out to its low (that's around six hours), and (more vaguely) the sun arced across the great wide open sky of blue (the wording might not be good, but, the idea...)

    I like your excerpts, especially "Some time later, things were getting whirled about, and Echo had seen many strange sights. At a low table interwrought with yantras and swirling elliptograms snaked through by exotic loops, a group of people puffed on a brass pipe, coughing out smoke so thick it resembled a purple dragon. They babbled nonsense words at each other."
    “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” ~ John Steinbeck

  5. #5
    I'm sorry if I've created a thread in the wrong place or my question is wrong; I don't really know my way around this forum. I don't think I want specific feedback on this, just thoughts and ideas on covering a time period telling the reader what the protagonist has been doing, but where the reader doesn't need to be shown everything in great detail. So it doesn't sound like a report I've zoomed in here and there and gone into 'show'/ a short scene - as an example of what the summary is.
    I can't post it bec. it's spread across pages of a notebook and a mess on screen.
    I get what you mean about back and forth; I'll be mindful of that.

    P.S. I probably didn't explain myself clearly in the first post (get so caught up I get lost).
    “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” ~ John Steinbeck

  6. #6
    Don't forget, your readers are pretty smart people and can quickly figure out what is going, and when it's going on without too much coaxing from the author. Time gaps usually mean scene changes also, and one of the common ways to denote a scene change (or time gap) is by just inserting an extra space between the paragraphs where the change occurs. Or maybe add an asterisk centered in that skipped line. When readers see such a gap, they expect a change in time, or scene, or point-of-view, or any other change the writer has in store.

    I, personally, don't like phrases like 'sometime later...', or 'when Bonnie awoke the next day...' In my opinion that's a bit too much stage-direction. Too much author intrusion into the story. When I see something like that, I think about those old silent movie westerns where right in the middle of a gunfight they would cut away to a sign that said, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..."

    Trust your readers.
    Last edited by Terry D; September 15th, 2017 at 09:37 PM.
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  7. #7
    Great question. The best answer is that you should take 20 books and see how different authors handle this problem. (No need to read the whole book.)

    Evanovich writes in past tense, so she can say "I drove back to my apartment building, parked my car, walked up the stairs, and entered my apartment." That doesn't work as well in present tense, so I do what Terry suggested, just leave a blank spot. So my book devolves into a series of scenes.

    As Jay pointed out, I then have to quickly establish time and place. Typical: "So we're sitting in McDonalds after shooting guns, and he ...." Headings get used a lot to help with that.

    I will sometimes have an interesting start, then put in setting:

    Wrestling is a really violent sport.
    I'm sitting in the stands. About one minute into the first match ...
    That handles most cases.
    How to write a good start: Hidden Content . Useful, original information. Long and thorough.
    Includes Hidden Content (do you start with description?), Hidden Content (a favorite with publishers apparently), starting with Hidden Content (a lost art), and more.

  8. #8
    There is no general rule. Sometimes it is necessary to give an idea of how much time has gone by. Other times it is not important. That's why I suggest posting the section for specific feedback.

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