For some reason, many writers feel the need to use time travel in their stories. I’m not talking about Science Fiction stories, by the way, even writers of so-called literary fiction fall prey to this habit.
Here’s a quick way to see if the book you are currently reading has time travel in it. Turn to the first pages of the book and look for the secret code word… you guessed it. Prologue.
To be honest, I have written my fair share of prologues.
In my opinion, a prologue is just a pre-flashback. Why do people feel the need to conjure their setting or characters, or plot lines in advance of telling their story? Hard to say, but to me it suggests an inability—more likely only a fear of the inability—to set the scene in within the story arc.
But isn’t that like a writer saying to a friend, “…I don’t have the words to tell you how grateful…” or some such? I cringe whenever I hear a writer say such a thing. Yes, yes, I know, it is more of a cultural meme than a true protestation, but still it grates.
For this same reason flashbacks, or the less conventional flash-forwards should be avoided. They are a crutch. A kind of saying, “Oh! Wait, I forgot. Let me jump out of the normal timeline to remind you of something…”
For the sake of flow, learning to tell your whole story within the self-assigned confines of your plot is the key.
OK, OK… yes. There are times when being clever gets points. The movie Inception—a very well-written and compelling piece—uses a type of time-travel, time dilation as a major plot piece. See? It makes sense to use “time travel” in a story about time travel.
Today’s challenge is to tell on yourself. No, you don’t need to confess here on UhW. Confessing to yourself is good enough.
Are you an inveterate time traveler? …or have you learned to tell your story as Lewis Carroll would say, by “…starting at the beginning and going through to the end…”? And, if you are somewhere in-between, where will you go from here?