There’s a big difference between the plot’s timeline and the sequence of passages. In my last blog, I wrote about some of the problems I’m having with the direction the plot is going. I was stuck and had to work my way out of the jam.
Besides not having the right (write?) action scenes and events, the timeline was out-of-whack and not in the right order. The timeline is the calendar flow of the plot. In others, what happens on what date and where. On some days in the stories, events happen almost simultaneously. Other times, there are several days in between each passage. To keep the events in order, everything is sequenced by time zone.
For example, if there are three scenes on the same day with one in Tel Aviv, a second in Berlin and the third in Washington DC, they have to follow the time zones. In other words, Tel Aviv is one hour ahead of Berlin and seven ahead of D.C. So, the time scene happens also has to reflect the relationship to the other time zones. For example, you can’t have the Berlin passage at 1300 before one taking place in Tel Aviv at 1130 because 1300 in Berlin is 1400 in Tel Aviv.
It sounds like a minor point but it isn’t. The tyranny of time zones forces one to rethink the sequence or change the time it occurs or move it scene to a different place in the book.
Sequence is the order in which the scenes take place within the timeline. Sounds simple, but it is not. What I find as I write is that some scenes are out of order when they are originally written. Sometimes I don’t realize it until a few pages or even chapters later when it dawns on me that they are out of order. This is one of the reasons that I had to stop writing The Assassin. Way to much was out of sequence and it had to be fixed before I continued creating the manuscript.
Well, why don’t I use flashbacks? Good question. My experience is that they are hard to write and often confuse the reader. Now you know why I pay close attention to the timeline and to the sequencing of the passages.
The Assassin takes place almost entirely in 2002. In fact, the majority of the book is between March and October, or seven months. The tightness of the timeline forces me to have the events in the right sequence. Doing so, adds to the pace of the book and creates drama unto its own.