The Diary of a Writer – Meg Sorick
In the course of novel writing, there are points at which absolutely nothing of consequence is going on. That is life, is it not? When you reach one of those points in the overall plot, you do not need to record every little insignificant detail of your characters’ lives while time moves forward and the next major event occurs.
For example, in Breaking Bread, the investigation into the fire by the police, the fire department and the coroner all take some time to complete. Maya and Brad, their families and friends will be waiting around for the results of tests and the complication of clues, checks from insurance companies and so forth. I don’t need to report all of this minutiae as it happens. Instead I will scoot time ahead and as I do, summarize or infer all the things that have happened to our fictional friends along the way. You will see me doing this in the following excerpt. I have even summarized an event that I could have dragged out but chose not to for the sake of keeping to the main story. You will see what I mean.
The time traveling needs to transition smoothly, however, so the reader doesn’t feel like the story came to a screeching halt and then raced forward again. Thus, the bridging piece needs to be just the right length with the just the right amount of information included. I dithered over this next excerpt for that very reason. (Thus the delay.) I wrote and deleted, wrote and deleted scene after scene. Do I take Brad shopping for new clothes? Do I write about him figuring out where to live? Do I show Leo and Olivia moving into their new house so that Brad can have Leo’s apartment? What is Maya going to do for work? We need to know those things but they aren’t crucial to the plot. I left them out.
What about Maya having conversations with her parents and Michael to piece together what Tanya was up to? That is crucial to the plot but I decided they weren’t ready for it yet. My conclusion was to proceed ahead, adding in a detail as it needs to be explained. For example, a single sentence can let the reader know that Brad has moved into Leo’s apartment. We can assume he shopped for new clothes –he has no choice– but you don’t need to hear what he bought.
Other details can be revealed in passing or within conversation. For example, Maya and Brad can have a discussion/argument over him buying a new building and she tells him she’s going to ask for her old job back at the Philadelphia hotel. A lot of information gets revealed in a short amount of time.
And so… we time travel forward a couple of weeks to the funeral.
Header Image: The Time Machine film 1960 starring Rod Taylor and based on the story by HG Wells.