Avoid time warp

by John R. Peterson
(Montreal, Canada)

Keep notes of details and timeline separate from what you will write or need to write in your novel. Too many time references or too many details can be just as confusing as a lack of same. Certain things you must keep track of in order to avoid contradictions or illogical occurrences but you don’t need to write down all the dates, ages or details in the story itself; you need only to know what those are when you are writing.

Refering to your notes helps you to keep things on track and in proper perspective so as not to confuse the reader. This is particularly important when you have many characters and when some are recurrent ones, also when a story covers any significant length of time. Keep track either in point form, on spreadsheets or some type of database that you can sort; whatever works best for you.
For example, knowing the precise dates of birth, deaths and key or important events will help avoid you writing:
- a character who is older than his/her parents
- a character driving a car model that did not yet exist when a certain event took place
- traveling long distances in such a short time that a character would have had to drive at 200 mph.
- a character aging slower than other characters
Readers pick up on such mistakes.

Comments for Avoid time warp

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Oct 31, 2012
A good tip
by: Audrey

John, this is an excellent tip! I get so many books littered with background information that interferes with the story. I'll be adding the link to this tip to my list of places to point people for good advice on specific topics.

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