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Help With My Weaknesses: Passing Time (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
This is without doubt one of my biggest problems and I still have yet to come to grips with it with any confidence. I don't need the afternoon, the evening or the following morning. None of that informs the story in any meaningful way and would only end up being filler. I need to get Tommy from 'this' afternoon to tomorrow afternoon as quickly as possible. This is what I have at the moment and I can't help but feel it's jarring. It's not proofed so don't worry about that. It's the actual method of transitioning I'm more interested in. It would be great if you could provide examples from your own work so I could see how you've done it:


The day stretched out before him, beyond his grasp, each second counted down; tomorrow, an epoch away, a point of impossible odds. All he could think about was the ‘T’, the simple communication turned missive by her breath. If it were to be this and only this then he would be satisfied. Asking more could repel and not attract. He had found solace in their brief exchange, enough for a lifetime, enough for an anorexic soul.

No matter how far the distance was, Tommy knew that the distance would eventually be travelled. And so, when the following afternoon arrived, he prepared himself for the possible disappointment, setting off at exactly the same time for Cove Street.

Sorted! Thanks to JBF:

He stood at 87, blurry eyed and eager. Time, with its army of seconds, minutes and hours had battled him through the night, tossed him in his sheets, prized his eyes open early, and dragged him through a painful morning.
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
Did he just sit under a tree the whole time? Did he eat? Run diagnostics of his internal systems?

No, the whole point is I don't need any of that. In the same way we don't need to describe someone getting on a train, travelling in a train and exiting the train on a long journey, if the train itself is only a mechanism to get our protagonist from a to b. Those transitions I've got no problem with. It's the transition of time I have a problem with.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
This is without doubt one of my biggest problems and I still have yet to come to grips with it with any confidence. I don't need the afternoon, the evening or the following morning. None of that informs the story in any meaningful way and would only end up being filler. I need to get Tommy from 'this' afternoon to tomorrow afternoon as quickly as possible. This is what I have at the moment and I can't help but feel it's jarring. It's not proofed so don't worry about that. It's the actual method of transitioning I'm more interested in. It would be great if you could provide examples from your own work so I could see how you've done it:

It's fine. Only two reasons to fill in that time:
(1) to set mood
(2) expose new details important to the story's continuation

If you don't need to do either, then skipping to the next action is correct. It doesn't matter if it's "next afternoon" or "next month". It doesn't look like you're looking for a change of mood, so you're good.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
No, the whole point is I don't need any of that. In the same way we don't need to describe someone getting on a train, travelling in a train and exiting the train on a long journey, if the train itself is only a mechanism to get our protagonist from a to b. Those transitions I've got no problem with. It's the transition of time I have a problem with.
I'm not saying you need to describe any of that. I'm saying there's a hole that has me scratching my head. I'm wondering what's going on. If you didn't say this passage was a transition (passage of time) I would not have guessed. After reading your paragraph, my first thought was "How did we get here?" Next was "What did he do all night? Did he sleep at all?"

Maybe he practiced omphaloskepsis. I dunno. I just got off work and it's late
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
It's fine. Only two reasons to fill in that time:
(1) to set mood
(2) expose new details important to the story's continuation

If you don't need to do either, then skipping to the next action is correct. It doesn't matter if it's "next afternoon" or "next month". It doesn't look like you're looking for a change of mood, so you're good.

Thanks. I've already used a mechanic to pass time which involved him kicking a ball, kicking the fence, etc. That worked fine. But I didn't want to have to go through that process again. In the previous version, I had things to say that added to the story, but here I'm just wanting that time out of the way. THIS is the section I've been dreading the most.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I'm not saying you need to describe any of that. I'm saying there's a hole that has me scratching my head. I'm wondering what's going on. If you didn't say this passage was a transition (passage of time) I would not have guessed. After reading your paragraph, my first thought was "How did we get here?" Next was "What did he do all night? Did he sleep at all?"

Maybe he practiced omphaloskepsis. I dunno. I just got off work and it's late

I can't understand why you don't know what's going on. I start by telling the reader the time stretches out before him and then end with: but that time eventually comes. All I'm worried about is whether it jars or not. And whether there's a better method.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Is this a better transitional sentence?

Time, with its seconds, minutes and hours finally relented though, the pain paid in fingernails bitten, hair combed and mooching.

or this:

Time, with its army of seconds, minutes and hours finally submitted though, the battle paid in fingernails bitten, hair combed and mooching.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Have you considered moving the point of reference for the passage to time? Rather than having him consider the time ahead of him, show him somewhat worn, bleary-eyed, and on edge as he heads off to meet his girl.

Moving the narrative camera, so to speak.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Have you considered moving the point of reference for the passage to time? Rather than having him consider the time ahead of him, show him somewhat worn, bleary-eyed, and on edge as he heads off to meet his girl.

Moving the narrative camera, so to speak.

That's definitely a consideration. Show what the time has physically done to him. I like that. In the meantime, in keeping with what I've already got, here's my latest revision:

Time, with its army of seconds, minutes and hours finally surrendered though, the battle paid with television, mooching, hair combing and fingernails bitten.

Perhaps I can incorporate your idea into this? If not, I think your idea is a good solution. I don't like the 'paid' bit but it'll do for now. 'Won' perhaps. 'won by'? Sound so ... awkward.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Try swapping 'bill' or 'dues' in for 'battle'. Less hostile overall (for battle, I'd expect something sharper and more vivid as opposed to the uneasy slog) and it suggests the cost as pertains to his state of mind.

Another option would be moving him ever further along. Have him standing on the sidewalk, restless, and do a quick overview of the past day or so. That gives you the immediacy of having him already in place, and lets you hit the high points of the hours preceding without having to try and detail empty time as it passes.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Try swapping 'bill' or 'dues' in for 'battle'. Less hostile overall (for battle, I'd expect something sharper and more vivid as opposed to the uneasy slog) and it suggests the cost as pertains to his state of mind.

Another option would be moving him ever further along. Have him standing on the sidewalk, restless, and do a quick overview of the past day or so. That gives you the immediacy of having him already in place, and lets you hit the high points of the hours preceding without having to try and detail empty time as it passes.

I like 'dues'. I think that does work better. The only problem is, I don't want any sign of 'negativity' in Tommy. I think you're onto something though. I could have him actually stood at 87 and reflecting on the day briefly. That would make the flow into the Lemon Girl appearing smooth.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Try swapping 'bill' or 'dues' in for 'battle'. Less hostile overall (for battle, I'd expect something sharper and more vivid as opposed to the uneasy slog) and it suggests the cost as pertains to his state of mind.

Another option would be moving him ever further along. Have him standing on the sidewalk, restless, and do a quick overview of the past day or so. That gives you the immediacy of having him already in place, and lets you hit the high points of the hours preceding without having to try and detail empty time as it passes.

Your idea works better. I feel as if I've got something to work with here, even if it's not as tight as I would like it at the moment. Now THIS is something I can remember and take into other situations. Great stuff. Cheers.

He stood at 87, blurry eyed and eager. Time, with its army of seconds, minutes and hours had battled him through the night, tossed him in his sheets, prized his eyes open early, and dragged him through a painful morning.

Go past the point and look back! Something as simple as that and I haven't considered it before. You've sorted it for me and given me invaluable help here. Thank you very much.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
To my own amazement, I am occasionally of use. :cool:

I write quite linearly, probably because I'm a pantser more than anything else. Although I write mostly in 3rd person, I'm writing as if I'm the protagonist, imagining what words he/she would use. So effectively I'm kind of a stick at the back of my characters, guiding them through while stopping to ask 'how do YOU see this?' The idea of just moving them ahead and then thinking back just didn't occur to me. I'm in the moment at all times. I'm absolutely certain I have done this before but it's not something I've thought about at all. It solves so many problems, as simple as it seems.
 
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