Thoughts on writing a time travel novel


For some inexplicable reason you’ve decided to explore time travel within your story; what problems are you likely to encounter? Well, for one, you’re going to have to plot to the nth degree and nitpick up the kazoo. (I say that with the chilling precognition that someone will one day find a plot hole I missed in Firestone Key.)

In an attempt to keep track of the movements of the Firestone, my floor was covered with bits of paper tracing the timeline, not to mention an equal post-it fest for each of the characters. Your eyes can cross with the complexity of it all.

Then, just when you’ve figured out the plot, comes the daunting task of structuring your narrative so that twists, turns and revelations hit at just the right points in the story. I chose present, past, deeper past, present (maybe), but I could just as equally have mixed the timelines together in the manner of a TV series, such as Once Upon A Time. Whatever method you choose, it’s a fight not to confuse the reader, or yourself.

So, why did I write a time travel novel? To explore a historical setting that particularly interested me? To create an alternative history, due to paradox? Not really, if I’m honest. As Elaine finds out, the time into which she’s thrown bears no relation to our history books at all. As far as I know, magic that turns people into animals has yet to manifest on earth, even if we would dearly love it to. I’m sure we all know someone who would do very nicely as a ferret.

Anyway, what was (is, will be) my reason to trundle off down the endless avenue of time travel?

I chose it as a fun (emphasis on the fun) way to explore my true fascination with cause and effect; to explore how we make the key pivotal decisions that set, or alter, the whole course of our lives. Elaine’s choices, due, in part, to her abusive history, lead to everything that follows, setting her future in motion and eventually circling around to cloud her past and that of her friends. As it turns out, each choice affects the next one and collides with those of the people surrounding her, producing a multiple ripple effect or a wave interference pattern.

In the end, Elaine’s questions, needs, ideas and actions lead to her choices, but what if the answer she craves causes the question?

Happy writing. Oh, if you find a plot hole, don’t tell anyone. No? Didn’t think so.

Live it like it matters

C