Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Walking Crooked Lines

Time lines, that is. 
Do your stories ever get the best of you? Every once in a while, I stop to think about my novels and wonder how I, the author, could have absolutely NO freaking idea what's going on.
But I don't.
Today it had to do with ages. It shouldn't be complicated, right? A lot of novels don't fully describe characters, and sometimes never comment on the narrator at all. So, you wouldn't think this would be a big issue. But I must make everything way more difficult than it needs to be. And I'm not talking head-scratching confusion, here. I'm talking major WTF moments.
The series that I'm working on now has three main races: the Dari, the Albion, and the Ushi. And they all age differently, for a variety of reasons. The Dari age like humans do, 1:1. The Albion age 7:1. So, every seven years, they look like they've aged one year. The Ushi are 10:1. And really, that isn't that complicated. You just take the age someone looks and multiply it by seven and there you go. That's their age. 
But here's where it gets tricky. There are four books in the series, and they don't take place one right after the other. They actually stretch over two decades. And not in equal intervals, either. We've got twelve years here, four years there, six months in between this and this. That's not counting how much time passes in the actual novel, which could be anywhere from two weeks to a year or more.
Do you see my problem?
It's a clusterfuck. 
But it makes for good reading.
And I guess that's all that really matters, eh?


  1. I had to laugh at this, because I did a whole series of posts last year on exactly this kind of problem. Don't feel bad, it's remarkably easy to get hopelessly lost in tracking seemingly-simple facts like this.

    This post might give some ideas for how to unfuck the timelines.

  2. Thanks a lot. I'll definitely take a look :)

    It might save me from banging my head against the wall.

  3. I feel your pain. I once had a time slipping element in a story. It caused all kinds of havoc with figuring out who was gone how long and the ratios at which they aged. Notice the 'once had'? Yeah, way to much headdesking going on to make that element worthwhile. Sounds like your's is more necessary to the story though. I wish you luck with keeping it all straight.