News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How To Add Interest To Your Writing With Time-travel

Using events in another time period to advance your plotline adds interest and color to your story. Generally you achieve this with either time-travel, which is moving your present-day protagonist physically to the location, flashbacks to another time within the protagonists lifetime, or reincarnation, where they emerge as another person. Your readers really don’t care how you get there; they simply want to be there. Research carefully, find interesting tidbits about your time period, like the food, the clothing. Your reader wants to be a tourist along with having an adventure.
Travelling in time is only theory and not something you can look up in Wikipedia, but research into the possible theories, learning new things, investigating new places adds a whole new dimension to writing that makes the job of committing some 70,000 words to paper exciting. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about whaling in 1865 when I wrote Love Out of Time, and discovered a fascinating event in the Civil War called The Stone Fleet Incident. You didn’t want to know how they did laundry on a boat, but I told you anyhow.
The wildly popular, romantic “Highlander” series by Diana Gabaldon has brought back interest in this genre. She uses Scotland and the Battle of Culloden in 1746, as her historical period. Her female character passes through an energy force to get there, and back again. Her romantic interest is hauntingly memorable.
In my novel, The Haunting of Aaron House, I use flashbacks of the ghost inhabiting Samantha’s body. The main secret to this writing is a strong sense of place. Your reader wants to be there with your protagonist, so you must put yourself there to observe small details, like clothing, speech, and manners—reacting to the scene so your readers hear the sounds, smell the odors around them. Garbage? Food? Blood?  In The Haunting of Aaron House, Amalie, the ghost in Samantha, is having a flashback to the Battle of Gettysburg. She’s in the middle of Pickett’s Charge.
“Amos! Amos, my beloved, where are you?” She stopped, holding her mouth, coughing. “I can’t breathe. The smoke from the guns is choking me. Too much noise. Cannons exploding, and men crying, horses screaming in pain.” She ran farther, her hands over her ears, staggering to avoid soldiers, and fell to the ground, crying for Amos.
Love Out of Time uses time-travel, complicated by shifts to parallel universes. We go to 1865, and a whaling village in Massachusetts called New Kensington. My main character, Sara Burkhart, rents a beach house in present day New Kensington that is haunted by a sea captain, leader of a group of time travellers from the old town. Sara’s ghost, Caleb, sends her back in time to i865 New Kensington. In this brief excerpt of Sara’s first visit, she wakes in the middle of the night.
Cautiously she opened one eye at a time, afraid of what she’d find, peering through the mist. It was night. She was outdoors. The smell of salt water indicated an ocean nearby. Roughly clad male bodies shoved past her, ignoring her presence. Judging by the shadows of tall-masted sailing ships in the distance, the sounds of bells and creaking timber, and the odors of rotten fish, unwashed bodies, and wet wool, she was somewhere far removed from her time.
Looking up. She saw a sign hanging overhead, the words “Sounder Inn” painted in coarse letters around a spouting whale—a tavern. …….Cautiously, she ventured inside. A strange mix of men of all races and nationalities…..some nearly naked and covered with tattoos.
You get the idea. Try it and go places you’ll never be.
See these books on my Amazon page.

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