Friday, September 05, 2008

TIME FRAMES By Morgan Mandel

While I was at the Apple Fest in Eagle River, Wisconsin, I had to ask the vendor what date it was before I could write out a check for the earrings I wanted to buy.

A few times I had to think twice about what day of the week it was, since this vacation started on a Wednesday, instead of the usual Friday.

Then, after trying to dodge the raindrops on the way to work, when I got there it seemed like a Monday, though it was Thursday.

It's easy to get mixed up about time. That's why when you're writing your manuscript you need to insert subtle hints here and there about the time of day, season, day of the week and year.

Here are a few easy ways to do this:

Time of day - Describe the sun coming up, or going down. What does the moon look like?

Season - Raking up leaves, throwing snowballs, watching new buds come up, feeling the hot sun on your feet at the beach.

Day of the week - Monday blues, Tuesday settling down to work day, Wednesday hump day, Thursday can hardly wait to go out Friday night, Friday pizza night, Saturday cleaning house day, Sunday church day.

Year - This will depend on when you set your novel. If it's during a bygone time, you'll need to insert hints about happenings then. The main thing is to keep track of when the novel starts, how many years it spans. You may need to show the change of seasons or the aging of your characters.

Hope this helps you keep track of time. If you remember to drop these hints in your manuscripts from the start, you won't have to go back later and try to figure out the time line. Believe me, it's not easy to figure it out later. I know from experience.

Morgan Mandel


  1. If I'm writing and have gotten well into the book, only to realize that I'm not sure how many days have passed in this character's life, then I know the reader will for sure be lost.

    Keep a timeline for your manuscript and employ the tips you've mentioned to help your reader follow along.

  2. Great tips!

    Seasons can really help relate the mood of a story.

    Morgan, I love how you incorporate writing tips with your daily life in your blog.

  3. I keep telling myself to do a timeline, but sometimes the story gets ahead of me!

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Nancy,
    I'm glad you like the way I use everyday life in my blogs to illustrate my writing tips. across.
    That's how I get my inspiration. I can be walking the dog and some little thing can happen. Next thing I know it, I've included it in my blog.
    Morgan Mandel

  5. Oops I need to edit my own comments better.


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