Time Markers- an excellent lesson learnt from author Mary Carroll Moore

Time Markers: How to Keep a Reader on Track with Your Story , by Mary Carroll Moore 

A few months ago, I began exchanging chapters with a writer who has an incredible skill with something called “time markers.” I feel very lucky to have her reading my chapters with time in mind. She has caught my natural sloppiness the way a good editor might, saving me and my reader from going off track and losing the story thread.
Are you aware of time markers in your story? They’re vital in fiction and memoir, even in nonfiction. They’re the little mentions of where we are in place, time of day, day of the week, even season, so that readers slide effortlessly through the sequence of events.
Many professional writers use timeline charts as part of their storyboarding or outlining process. They take each person in the story, for instance, and write a timeline of their events in sequence. What time of year it happens (season), then what day, then what time of day. It seems nit-picky when you’re in early drafts, and I don’t usually pay much attention at that stage, but in later revision it’s essential.  
A timeline chart might be as simple as the character’s name, the scene, and three columns for (1) season, (2) day of the week, and (3) time of day. If events are hourly in your book, if they are even day after day, your total timeline might span a week or a month or a year. But if you are covering huge swatches of time, you’ll really need this kind of time marking for yourself, so you know if three years have passed or a decade.
Once you have your timeline chart in place, there’s a great sense of relief. At least for me. But then, as we write, we often lose track of the chart and move time all over the place. A scene starts out in daylight then suddenly there’s a point where something is discovered by flashlight. Unless there’s a time marker, showing that we’ve moved into nighttime, the reader will stop, possibly go back and reread (never a good thing), or put down the book altogether.
I know this happens to me a lot. I have my timeline chart but as I move into later drafts, I ignore it. Hence, the need for readers to catch this–if I can’t do it myself.
Time markers can be obvious or subtle. Obvious time markers might be “Three days had passed with no word from Ella” or “Had it only been yesterday?” Clunky when you’re writing them, but an instant relief for your reader. Now we know if the previous chapter happened two days or a week ago.
Subtler time markers include a sense of changing light in a room or space, the beginning of darkness outside and need for man-made light, how a person is dressed (which can show time of day or season), sleep and waking moments, and much more.
Stuff like this is tedious to keep track of. Most writers dislike it and ignore it. But nothing stumbles a reader faster.  

Challenging Moral Beliefs – guest blog by -writershelpingwriters.net

Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

Posted on May 28, 2016 by Angela Ackerman

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

But how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!

YOUR TURN: Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thought

Originally posted at IWSG

    Related

10 Reasons Why Your Hero Needs Flaws

In “Character Flaws”

Will Readers Find Your Protagonist Worthy?

In “Character Traits”

Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character

In “Balance”

– See more at: http://writershelpingwriters.net/2016/05/deepen-character-readers-challenging-moral-beliefs/#.dpuf

“Who I am and why I am here”

Throughout my life I have written a number of books. Always having been a book reader. Enjoying getting lost in a story and learning more about life and social issues as I read.

As a child I created a twelve chapter story entitled ‘Beth- the orphan’. Handwritten in a school exercise book.

Following this novel, a three part comic story about a girl.  I named it ‘Bella Golden’ Bella’s activities were created in childlike drawings.Sadly all of these childhood stories have been lost over the years.

As a young adult, at teacher’ college, the students in the English course needed to write a chilrens’ book. Once again I drew a pictorial story about a boy on a train – entitled ‘Tim takes a train trip’. All I recall in writing this is my attempt at making the words read like the sound of a train on the tracks. The clickity click – ‘we’re getting there, we’re getting there’ ran through the story – onomatopoeia I think it is called.

Many years later in the 1990s, when computers were first being bought by everyday people for their homes, in my middle age I began my life’s story. An analysis of

-why I am who I am.

-Challenges I have faced.

-Motivations.

That sort of thing. It sits in a file in documents on my computer. Only one person has read it.

So, why am I here now?

What is my motivation twenty years later to begin blogging?

After a decade of family tree research, after discovering interesting information about my ancestors, I discovered story writing again.

Eighteen months later my first novel has been written. Presently in with a self publishing company to bring it to print, into ebook form, and released on the market.

As I await the release date, my focus has been on building relationships, joining and promoting on social networks, so that more than family and friends may show an interest in ‘The Fortune Seekers’.

Hence I discovered the world of blogging. For a few months I have attempted this art. Posting weekly. Adding pictures. Attempting to gain followers and likes.

Sofar, I remain an unknown blogger with very limited attention to my blogs. Undiscovered. Unsure how hash tags work. That sort of thing. Today I attempt my first tags. Interested to see the response.

So, why am I here? To learn.

As simple as that.

 

Family, history and health

My blogs are in relation to the art of writing, and sharing family stories discovered after years of historical research. What I’ve discovered brings to mind the challenges of the time. Mysteries are unravelled, by turning the lives into personalities, by turning the stories into fiction – Resulting in much loved characters from my past overcoming life and seeking their Fortunes. Hence – “The Fortune Seekers” novels are underway.

Setting up my website  – https://glenniswritingabc.wordpress.com

Website Beginninings

Ok

My first newsletter is up, thanks to the programme called ‘smore’. Quite brilliant really. Simple. Except it took me a while to remove the spelling mistakes. Just for fun I have left them  – hoping you, my reader, can locate them. 

Hint – there are 2. And some bad writing to boot. But all has been corrected on the live smore site.

Ok – now to setting up the website. 

I’ve been blogging on WordPress for a couple of weeks. The blogs are appearing on my Facebook page. How that happened I don’t know. That’s  – 

Facebook a/c – Glennis Browne Author 

http:www/facebook.com/glentrev 

But no complaints. Something works between Facebook and WordPress.

As my novel is soon to be published, it’s time to develop my website.

I’m publishing with Xlibris.com. Both hard copies and ebooks will be available under my name:- Glennis Browne and/or ‘The Fortune Seekers.” Ebooks will be available on all ebook sites – Amazon, Kindle etc as well

But is that enough to be found by the world? No, not from what I see. 

Hence, my attempt to build my first website. Finally I have managed to sort out a domain name, after paying the annual fee.

My web Domain name is –   https://glenniswritingabc.wordpress.com

I really am feeling my way, friends.

That’s it. I hope that is it anyway. Not the easiest to remember, as I really wanted to use my author name – Glennis Browne, but when setting up my WordPress blogg I invented glenniswritingabc. At least that was available.

Now, when the website is up and running in a few hours, look in on it and see how I’ve progressed designing the site. Apparently it’s like ‘paint by numbers’, following templates. But we shall see, shan’t we? I’m happy for any tips by the way. 

Finally, a little something to wet your appetite. 

Would you like to read a teaser from ‘The Fortune Seekers?’

Just looking for a few paragraphs now:- aha, here we go:-

Glennis Browne
The Prologue and Introduction to Part 2
 – setting the scene. As life in the 1850s was different to the 21st century…

Conformity

The formative years for Charlotte Mertons, as also was the case for Dan Mathews, were influenced by a strong church presence. In the 1850s, in Britain, most families were guided by the teaching of the various Christian churches.

The nonconformist Methodist churches in Clavering were as focused on controlling their congregations as the nonconformist churches had been in Wales.

Physical as well as spiritual health of the congregations is important. The intention is to encourage commendable behaviour, believed to ensure families within the congregation live wholesome lives. Many rules have been made regarding what a wholesome life is.

To achieve such, the population are encouraged to conform. This in itself is a challenge.

In the 1850s, a change of direction occurred regarding ‘marriage’ between first cousins, which deemed such marriages as ‘unwholesome’.

Prior to this, first cousins regularly married, as those of marriageable age were often confined within local villages. Finding a marriage partner was often limited to the only partner available, who might be a cousin.

With the increase in mobility of women, due to the growth of the railroad in England, women were no longer confined to their homes.

The population now socialised with non-relatives throughout the land. Marriage between first cousins naturally decreased.

At this time, Charles Darwin proposed a theory affecting first cousins who still wanted to become married.

Darwin, one of the Victorian population who had chosen to marry his first cousin, fathered a family of ten. Sadly, three died in childhood.

According to Darwin, the deaths were due to the close blood relationship between himself and his wife, by genetically passing on health issues.

The Methodists, who desire healthy, wholesome lives, supported Darwin’s philosophies after a very methodical and principled deliberation.

Decreeing: If ill health and physical imperfections are passed from parents to their children, and it follows imperfections will be more pronounced between first cousins. Therefore, the goal of reaching perfection, as God intends it, is unattainable.

From that time on, the betrothal of first cousins was no longer permitted within the church.

Another principle established was in regards to sexual relationships.

At the time, English statistics recorded women of lower socio-economic groups were becoming married on average at the age of twenty-six to twenty-eight years. A very high percentage producing a baby before nine months passes after the marriage ceremony.

What followed within the church was a doctrinal interpretation in regards to sexual relations before betrothal and marriage, regulating against such behaviour.

Unwed women known to have given birth to children out of wedlock were ultimately disgraced and accused of being ‘loose women’, branded by the church as sinners.

Children, born under these circumstances, were given the label of ‘bastard’. The children, born out of wedlock, carry this label all their lives due to their unknown or unregistered paternity.

Therefore, urgency to marry became important, as ongoing sexual relationships outside of marriage continued, producing many ‘illegitimate’ children.

With this background in mind, we go back in time to the middle of the 1850s.
..

Sorry, we won’t do that at this time. Wait for the book to be released in late June/early July to discover the story of heartbreak, hardship, love, lost love, emigration… And so much more.

See you next week, Glennis

https://glenniswritingabc.wordpress.com

The Fortune Seekers preview

My manuscript has gone its merry way to the place where completed manuscripts end up! With the publisher.
Time for a preview?

It’s now time….

Here we go…. Read on
‘Daniel, do it. Take your life into your own hands’, it mocks him, laughing as it taunted.

 

‘This isn’t the freedom I’m after!’ His cry is from his heart.

 

‘You misunderstand freedom, Daniel. You want freedom? Then break free, step off into the unknown. Come follow me!’

 

The mocking voice drives his confused mind unrelentingly into a place of greater instability.

 

‘Leave me alone!’ Dan screams.

 

The strong Atlantic air current pushes against his body, his raised arms making him unstable. He wavers in the wind, unsteady on his feet.

 

Momentarily, neurotically, believing he is enjoying the instability of the erratic swaying sensation, despite the pounding of his heart and the rising tension disturbing his mind. His breathing is rushed – he is panicking – yet doing nothing to prevent disaster.

 

‘Go on. Don’t be scared. Take the first step. For once take your life into your own hands, and follow me’, repeats the eerie voice.

 

‘No!’

It unrelentingly continues challenging Dan.

 ‘Stop shrinking back from decision-making. For once, take control.’

 

‘I want freedom, not death.’ His cry is weak and unconvincing.

 

‘Death is without sting for those who believe. Death brings freedom. You do believe this?’ taunts the demonic voice.

 

‘No!’

 

‘Set yourself free from being controlled. Think for yourself. Be a man, Daniel. Follow me. Step into the unknown.’

 

A shudder passes through Dan’s body. Confusion compounds.

A bewildered cry to the heavens comes from deep within his tortured soul. ‘Not this way. Freedom isn’t found this way . . . Oh God, help me!’

 

Around him, thunderclaps travelling across the sky echo around the hills as if the taunting spirit is spreading its fingers wide, throwing lightning from the booming clouds suddenly formed overhead, -determined to frighten the man on the cliff edge as a battle rages in the heavens.

 

Dan stands his ground, whispering, ‘God, help me . . . to live.’
Just a teaser. The Fortune Seekers should be published end of June on Xlibris .com.au and all ebook sites.