I have been putting a lot of thought into the new novel I’m writing but It’s proving to be a challenge. I will be featuring a dip into the past in chapter one to explain the mindset that brought one of my main characters to his job as an agent. Then in chapter two I was planning to jump right into the present date of the novel, but now I’m battling with my choice. Is it really a good idea to jump around with timing in a novel?
My first answer was hell no. It brought in the risk of confusing my readers and not to mention the struggle I would be placing in my own hands. But as I have been debating how to start chapter two I made a realization. If I decide I don’t want to jump the novel ahead in chapter two then I’ll have to explain years of events leading up to the main focus of the novel. Not only will that be a struggle to include all the fine details, but that would risk boring my readers. The events leading up to my story’s main point would mostly be college classes for my characters. And who really wants to live through all of those details? Not a lot of people. This fact left me with only one option. I am going to have to push the date forward in chapter two.
I truly believe there isn’t a single way an author could take on a time jump in their novels. Heck, an author could write one novel a particular way and then write a new novel in a completely new style. It’s these tiny choices an author makes that makes writing the piece and reading the finished story so enjoyable. In my novel, Curse Under The Moon I featured a moment of going back in time. When I took the story back in time in my first novel I didn’t start a new chapter or even italicize the letters. All I did was write 205 Years Ago before I hopped back in time. I think it worked and was the simplest way to address the time change in the middle of a chapter. I could have also started the fall back in time by italicizing the words and changing the way I wrote the story. It would have been weird to write in a style from two hundred years ago, but it also would have been cool. A very popular way to simply fall back in time is to start an entirely new chapter to address the change. There are many ways and I think any of the methods are fine. It all depends on how the author wants their novel to be written.
It’s only a tiny choice I will make in my novels when I write stories with changing timelines. But it is a choice I must make. If the wrong method is chosen then it could very easily make the story read in an odd way. I think it’s fun to think up different ways a time change might be written. Then I know what the best option might be for my novels to take.