WOO-WEE I’ve been busy over at the 12-Day crazy-ass massive are-you-freaking-kidding-me book giveaway we’re doing at Women and Words. It’s the Holiday Hootenanny, people! As an example of the out-of-control-ed-ness, here’s Day 8 for you to see.
Yeah, like that.
Anyway, I was thinking about the writing process behind writing a contemporary series, and about how time runs on two separate tracks when you’re doing that. There’s the author’s real time, and all the events and contexts that the author is living through and dealing with, and then there’s the series. I blogged about this time conundrum in a series HERE.
Here’s a quote from that blog:
Here’s what’s weird about a book series. For the characters in your books, time is a whole different construct than it is for you personally. That is, for them, a month has passed. For you, a year or two. And then there’s a lag between finishing the book and actually publishing it. So what’s been a month or two for your characters is a year or two for you. Which raises the issue: how do you keep your series chronologically accurate without having to write historical fiction every time you sit down to do another installment in your work?
You see what the issue might be? As a writer, you have to make sure that tech and references are updated in each successive book or you will totally be writing historical fiction. Because tech was different in 2007 than it is now. And how we use it is different. So time is kinda weird for your characters each time you write a book, because they’ve now got tablets and super awesome smartphones in this latest installment when in the first book, tablets hadn’t even been introduced and technically, only a few months have passed in your characters’ time frame.
Same, too, with events in terms of references that your characters are going to make. Case in point. I was writing my first mystery, Land of Entrapment when marriage equality was just barely working its way past Massachusetts. I just published the fourth in that series, Day of the Dead, in November. Yesterday, barely 6 weeks after that book was published, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling that it’s unconstitutional to not allow same-sex couples to marry.
Probably about 18 months have gone by for the characters in the books. So technically, it’s only 2007 in the books, if you take that literally. But that’s not what’s happened, if you read the series and notice the subtle (I hope) shifts with the times. It’s a contemporary mystery series. So…
Authors have to take liberties with chronology. The New Mexico ruling will have to figure in my plotlines, because most of my main characters identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and the right to marry in their home state can open all kinds of interesting subplots for characters in relationships. For those of you who follow the series, think about Chris and her love interest. Do you think they’ll rush out to get married? Hmm… 🙂
As a backdrop, momentous events can add another cool layer to your series. Which is why it’s okay to take liberties with that weird time warp thing that goes on when you’re writing a series. As I point out in the other blog I did (link above), keep track of the microtimelines that your characters are dealing with, and layer those into the macrotimeline of social and political events. I keep actual paper notebooks with character info and also an outline sort of thing in which I’ll write down the day that specific scenes take place and I’ll then write down which scenes occur in which day. I do this after I’ve already written the scene (I don’t do pre-narrative outlines), so I can then ensure that I’m staying within the proper time parameters in terms of the characters’ day-to-day but also keep an eye on what larger contexts need to be referenced in the characters’ thought processes and conversations.
So when I got the news yesterday about New Mexico, my first thought was YESSSSSS!!!! My second was that tons of Texans with same-sex partners are going to be rushing in to get married (cool). My third was: Wow. Wonder what my characters will do with this.
I’m sure it’ll be something. I’ll be starting the research for book 5 next year. 🙂
Anyway, friends, come on by the Hootenanny to check out the lesfic/feminist fic. We’ve got some good stuff and holiday cheer, if you’re needing some. Try to stay sane this time of year, too. Put on some music and dance around the house. Have a little eggnog. Watch a movie. Make sure you get your chillin’ in, because this time of year is stressful for lots of people.