timelines

I’m not sure how much time the average quirky mystery covers. Is the action typically all over within a few days or is it drawn out over weeks or even months?

My instinct is to rush through all the action as quickly as possible before I forget where I’m going with it. Sometimes this is because I’m writing the first draft during November and have a deadline to meet, but I think this just reflects an existing preference.  In some ways this suits the mystery genre well. As far as I know, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot never took very long to solve their murder cases.  But sometimes it’s good to draw things out a little, not so that you can pad out the extra time with more descriptions, but so that the reader gets a sense of time passing at a leisurely pace and not rushing by so fast that you just see one big blur.

Apart from that, as I’ve discovered on numerous occasions, timelines can be tricky. This is a particular problem when you write from more than one point of view and cover concurrent events. It’s easy to let one character or group of characters get out of step with another, so that it’s almost impossible for their stories ever to converge. Another issue is when days of the week are mentioned but you have no idea of what happened on which day. One of my recent chapters began ‘Christopher had planned a quiet Sunday’,  but when I actually got round to making a chapter list and trying to extrapolate the days of the week from it, I found it couldn’t possibly be Sunday yet because the day before had been designated as Tuesday for some reason.

I suppose this is what plot outlines are for!

On a different subject, congratulations to the cast and production team of ‘The King’s Speech’ on winning so many awards. Just my kind of film.

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