Wednesday, July 15, 2015
It's About Time!
So HWMNBMOTI and I watched Gone Girl on Saturday night and it got me thinking about something that I actually think about a lot when I read, and think I want to think about MORE when I write.
You guessed it. Time.
Now the thing about time is people seem to have really strong opinions about how time plays out in books. Some people really want time to flow in one direction. Other people (like me) love a story that does some wonky backward/forward stuff, provided it is done well.
The first book I remember really noticing this done elegantly is The Source. This was the first of Michener's location novels where he goes through time in one place to give us a sense of history. The clever thing I loved though, was that it traveled backward (archeologists digging down) and forward (from the first civilization built at the water source).
Tom does some of the bendiest stuff with time I've ever seen. He slows it and speeds it and makes it a character and it's fantastic, but his novels are all on a sort of surreal plane—the reader knows he's playing. It is just our job to enjoy the trip.
I've seen some mysteries jump between the solving and the happening of the crime—I can like that a lot, done well. Harry Dolan's latest, The Last Dead Girl, does a bit of this and I love it.
I've seen a lot of books with flashbacks or “finding papers or a journal” that manage to pull up the old story, but I find them clunky a lot of the time. Not always... if done as a mystery I can get along with it—learning with the MC. But I've seen it done badly enough to know to BE CAREFUL!
But What is RIGHT?
This is the trick, right? I know I've seen it done well and done poorly, so how do I make sure I fall on the right side of this?
The reason I'm asking as, after watching Gone Girl, it occurred to me that Medium Wrong, which so centrally heads toward Amanda's mother's story, MIGHT best be told in a bit of parallel... I think... But I want to make sure I am not clunky and awkward about it.
So do you like stories that mess with time?
Not counting specific time travel, what are your favorites?
Any words of wisdom as I think about doing this?
ALSO, if you are near Ann Arbor and write mysteries, Aunt Agatha's is hosting a writer in residence day at the Ann Arbor Bookfest for a few lucky authors to get one on one feedback. Check here for details.