Tulips In July – Writing Advice, Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post. 

tbt 3

I’m not going to just repost an old post, I’m going to revise it and edit it as well. Make it fresher and add some new perspective as I’ve come a long way since. It’s fitting that today’s daily word prompt (Sadly the last) is Retrospective. I’ve started looking back to old posts to see how they compare now with all I’ve learned since. I found it interesting and thought that I might share that part of my journey too. Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The first post I’m going to revisit is Tulips In July. Originally posted on Aug 22, 2016, 9:52 AM.

Tulips in July

The story I wrote takes place in “real time” by that I mean an imagined year of the current year. (I have since learned this is a genre called Urban Fantasy) I was about halfway through when I realized to interact with the world around them I needed to know exactly what day of the year it is. It would be silly to have them looking at tulips in July. It became apparent that I needed to keep track of time as well as the characters.

(The same is true for my new book Prophecy, it is also an Urban Fantasy and relies on the realism of the setting.)

So I printed out a generic calendar from about ten years from now. It isn’t important that I say it’s April 17th, but it is important to stay on track.

(My newest story doesn’t have a calendar, I used a spreadsheet with the days of the week since it takes place in a three-week span.)

As I went back to the beginning, I wrote down any significant plot events on the calendar. As I moved forward, I discovered that by the end of the book, the story was off by two weeks. In the beginning, I eluded how long they would be working for. Instead of changing the conversation that outlined the length of the summer job, I wrote the difference in. It gave me the opportunity to add a little more dynamic to the mystery that I hadn’t thought about before. (Adding in foreshadows as an afterthought is easy to do as long as it fits into the story and doesn’t look like it was just tossed in randomly.) Fifty days in, someone in charge slips up and gives the protagonist has a very large clue. This is an important event. That clue leads her quickly to solve the grand mystery just in time. I actually planned it to be that day, so if I refer back, it’s an easy number to remember.

(With the new story, I kept track of the timeline from the start. This made it easier to keep on schedule. However, I realized quickly that I had one character working seven days a week and had to go back to fix that. Oops.)

Having a timeline or calendar of events made things much easier. I can refer back to it or even have the characters refer back. At one point, the number of days is actually mentioned. If a reader were to follow along that carefully, they would find it accurate. Even though it is a fantasy, some reality is required.

Since I wrote this, I have learned that keeping track of time and the day of the week is very important. Aside from smelling Tulips in July, it’s important for clothing descriptions, weather interactions, and things like bar nights or weddings on a Sunday. 

My advice about timelines

Use them even if it’s not important it’s a fantastic way to keep track of events or interactions that drive the story. Did Joe make the ominous phone call before or after he got the internship? If I need to check, I can refer to a calendar and not have to flip back chapters to find it if I forget. 

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

So there it is, the subject is as relevant today as it was the first day I wrote this almost two years ago. (Seriously? two years? Holy Moly.) Calendar style timelines are helpful, whether they are an actual calendar, a giant chart on a wall, a day by day list or a crayon drawing on a paper placemat. It’s a good idea. Thanks for reading, I hope you found some of this information useful, if not new, then I hope you didn’t mind the reminder.

Retrospective

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9 thoughts on “Tulips In July – Writing Advice, Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

  1. I never thought about using a calendar tbh. I’ve kept it in my head, but it definitely would make it a whole lot easier to keep the accuracy because I have (while editing) had to change a moment here and there because I had inadvertently messed up. Thanks, Sheryl, as always. Your points are noteworthy and helpful. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny because I discovered the value out of pure frustration. I sat there for three days with a calendar on my desk marking everything that happened on every day or group of days. I numbered and counted each day from day one to the day of the year. Now I do it for all my books. I have one that takes place over two months. I find if I’m writing in short time frames I need to make sure they don’t run into churchgoers on Tuesday or at a nightclub on a Monday night. My new book isn’t as date detailed as my first one, but I did find I had one of the two main characters not taking days off and he has a government job.

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      • It’s amazing, because I’ve found the same. A big question mark pops up, hey, wait a minute, weren’t you just at….doing…. that doesn’t work! lol I sure love your posts! You help keep it real! I love that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Great wellspring – Nicolas Heartmann

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