When I’m writing I sometimes become so immersed that I’m not aware of time, I can ‘lose’ an hour, two hours even when I come away from my work. Where did that hour go? What happened to those two hours?
I can also lose track of the time which is elapsing in my story, and when I read it through afterwards there might only be five days in a character’s week, or there might be two weekends happening concurrently, with no week in between (how I longed for that while I was at work!) In Farholm, the first book I published on Kindle, timing was crucial because the events took place over a fortnight, between the main characters arriving on Farholm Island one Friday, and leaving two weeks later… I had to have a very big calendar and make sure everything fitted! In other stores it has been more flexible, but I still need to keep track of events; in ‘Loving Judah’ the characters went to church a couple of times, which had to be on a Sunday.
When I started writing ‘Radwinter’, the first scene is of the main character, Thomas, visiting his brother just before Christmas, a few weeks before. I could imagine the brother’s house all beautifully decorated and warm and welcoming for Thomas, who was feeling a bit low. As the story progressed I realised that I had to move the opening scene back, so out went all the Christmas decoration references. Thomas meets up with his other brother, John for a quiz, and enjoys himself so much that he and John start going to the quiz every Tuesday… so the time is set even further back, back to the beginning of November. Thomas is going out with his work for their Christmas ‘do’ on Wednesday 18th December… so from then on, the days are very tight, but it is easier to write because I know where I am… so 17th December, quiz, 18th ‘do’ 19th incident in shopping mall, 20th last day at work…. weekend visiting in-laws, Monday 23rd last minute shopping… and so on through Christmas to the final events on the day after Boxing Day. My story is set in 2013, so I was able to write concurrently, and mention things happening on the news which were relevant to the story, and also use the dreadful weather and ferocious storms as part of the action. I take a few liberties and snow and very cold weather is a feature, although in reality the temperatures were quite mild… but hey, this is fiction!
Now I editing it, and I realise that the beginning part of the story is set further back, so now it begins in October… I’m going to have a great big calendar and map the events for the early part, just to make sure we don’t have inconsistencies and anachronisms…. I am very grateful to my readers who spot them, but I’d prefer them not to be there!