How does the time keep going so quickly? Wasn’t it just last Thursday? Last Halloween when Ann Dee was talking about Trick or Treating? Wasn’t it barely 2000 and something when so many were so sure the world was going to end?
Just as confusing as time in our lives is the time we write. How much time does your novel really need? Does it need to last 4 years? 4 months? Or will 4 days do?
The passage of time is important in a book. It means growth, change, a character learning something. And the passage of time needs to be accounted for. If weeks go by and we hear nothing from the character, why? Do we hear nothing for a reason or can the book be shorter?
As for me, well, I opt for shorter times periods. They are more manageable. That said, I’ve had two books that take place over a year and one novel that takes place in less than 12 hours. Remember, there must be a reason for everything you do in writing.
I don’t think I’m alone, these days, in thinking of scary figures, screeching owls; creepy, crawley things that may (or may NOT) go bump in the night. And I’m not talking about the Politics du jour. I’m talking about your favorite and mine: Halloween !
I’m going to miss my over-hanging balcony again this year. When I lived in Lehi, I used to dress up as a witch, turn off all my lights, and sit outside with my record of Monster Mash and other creepy noises, and a CAULDRON of goodies for the bazillion kids who lived in my neighborhood. It had gotten too hard for me to run up and down the 15 steps to my garage level, so I set up shop on the balcony. Some of the older kids (make that 8, 9 yrs old) knew about the crazy lady dressed in black up on her balcony in a witch hat and green makeup. They’d come to just below the east end of the balcony and call up:
“Do the Witch Laugh!”
If a Daddy or Mommy was hold a much younger child, I would say, “Are you sure?” and wait for his or her “permission.” Didn’t want to REALLY scare the bejeebies out of the little ones.
Then I’d do the Witch Laugh. The kids would all run around my patch of front lawn, screaming. When they’d calm down, I’d throw down a handful or two of the goodies.
Good Times in Lehi ! ! !
Now, what I should do — and YOU could do it too — decide on my favorite “bad guy” types: MINE would be witches, of course; never been a fan of Dracula, the Undead, Zombies, etc.
What could I write — just for fun — about my “bad guys.” And how bad would they, could they, be? What would they do? How could they finally be vanquished? Or maybe it’s just a poem, or lyrics to a song, possibly set to a familiar tune?
Try some FUN writing just to interrupt for one evening and make yourself a Merry Little, Scary Little All Hallow’s Eve ! ! !
A few weeks ago, I turned on the local news and saw the mugshot of my beloved high school English teacher. He has been accused of having a two-year-long relationship with a student, beginning when she was just 15.
Since then, I’ve alternated between feelings of shock, disbelief, and overwhelming sadness. This is the man who influenced my life more than all my other teachers put together. He pushed me, inspired me, taught me to love literature in a way I never had before.
Every time I read a book, I interpret it using the methods he taught me. Every time I write, I use the techniques he gave me. Every time I teach, I’m merely mimicking his style, his enthusiasm, and his pure love for the subject.
So how could a man who did so much good in my life and in so many others have done something so disgusting and despicable?
This is one of the reasons I think age benefits writing. When I was young, good people were good and bad people were bad. Period. The characters I wrote reflected that. One-dimensional, cliche, flat.
But the older I get, the more I realize how wrong that is. People have depth. They have secrets. They have entire lives that no one knows anything about. And the best characters are like that too.