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Writing a story with characters located in different time zones.


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Has anyone done this?

 

I have realised that my time frames for two protagonists who are in living in different time zones do not sync.  I have spent the past 3 hours trying to work out how best to write the first part of my work (Ruth) so that things work time wise. Once they are both in the same place i.e the UK, the problem will disappear will be fine.

 

 

At the moment I have each POV switching chapter by chapter but may need to break this pattern and do it by switching scenes within a chapter (which I am not a great fan of). Has anyone written a novel where they switch POV per scene within a chapter?

 

Why do I do this to myself?🙄😬

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30 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

Has anyone done this?

Once, and it confused me 😄 Just don't be too specific about the time, and it'll be easier!

31 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

Has anyone written a novel where they switch POV per scene within a chapter?

I do it all the time, and a lot of the books I've read do it as well. I don't have a problem with it as a writer or a reader.

32 minutes ago, Shamrock said:

Why do I do this to myself?🙄

😄

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I'll be writing on one POV, but the group is in two, and then three, locations. (Four if you count the bottom of the Delaware River.)

 

But I've already had to be exacting on what happens moment by moment, because seven books, and the story has to take place in a year max.

 

I did it the only way I know how. Keep track with a calendar for that year, and always know who is where when. 

 

For something you can do, especially since you're doing one POV per chapter is read the novel The Help. The story won't help timewise, but it sure can show how to do multiple POVs in each chapter. (Doubly hard since two out of the three narrators are first-person.)

 

Added bonus: It's a good story too, even if something gags me.

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2 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Has anyone written a novel where they switch POV per scene within a chapter?

 

Kind of. I write fantasy where it's more common. I don't alternate with any pattern though. Characters just get scenes when they need them. And I never have more than a handful of POVs. You can do it - just don't feel obligated to switch to a character just because it's "time" or "the pattern" - wait until the story dictates it. 

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2 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Has anyone written a novel where they switch POV per scene within a chapter?

 

Sure I have, Shamrock.  Plenty of my authors do, too.  I guess it's most common in thrillers, mystery and some fantasy.  You kind of get used to it.  It's too common in those genres.

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I have written work with multiple POVs. 

 It is just getting the flow of the sequence of what each character is doing in the correct order before they meet up.  That may dictate if I need to switch to changing POV within chapters rather than with a chapter. 

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15 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Has anyone written a novel where they switch POV per scene within a chapter?

 

I switch scenes, but my POV remains in third person.

 

As for time zones, I wrote a novel that does something similar. Each scene has a time and date stamp, and while it's a fictional story, I utilized real locations. So I did have to pay attention to time zones if I change a scene to a distant location. But I went a step further. I researched the weather on each day (and time) I used so the scene would be realistic. I also kept track of significant local/national events that had an impact on the scene.

 

Was all that detail necessary? Probably not, but I think it's fun to go that extra mile.  And since the story is set in the mid to late 1990's, I very well could run across a reader who might be from a particular location I used, and would remember those details. And in one instance (that I know of) I did happen, and that reader became an instant fan who wrote a very nice review of that book.

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Thanks Accord64

 

I agree that is worth doing the research especially about the weather.  When I work the Sphinx trilogy I had to do similar research about events, music and media/technology to help anchor the years as they went by.  

 

'Ruth' is set in 2019 (Pre-covid) so the weather and getting the sequence of who is doing what in each country is the principal thing. AT present I am working back from the point Hannah touches down at Heathrow Airport. Then her and Evans movement become easier to sync as they are in the same country.

 

 

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Some of my stories take place over years, others over months, one lasted a single month and another lasted a single day.

 

For the month-long story, I was careful to give the date at the beginning of the chapter. For important days which were split into multiple chapters, I included time of day as morning, noon, afternoon, evening or night. 

 

If there is a big jump of time between scenes in the same chapter, I work it into the narrative as "later that day", "a few hours later", etc.

 

The story I wrote that takes place over a single day I plotted hour by hour to make sure it was possible for all characters to get to where they needed to be and accomplish the actions described in the allotted time. I included the time of day at the head of each scene in that story. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, in my "AENIGMA" series, time is very important, and my spy character works all over the world, the time zones of which are different from where other agents and the HQ are located.  My series follows one character at a time, but since he does communicate with those in other time zones, I have to be aware of that.  

 

I went to a lot of effort to start each section with a heading showing date/time and location; that was helpful for me.  My chapters progress through time chronologically focusing on the spy, but I allowed my prologs, mesologs, and epilogs to be out of that chronological sequence as a way to show an event that is coming up or to show another perspective in the past; these -logs are from a different character, never my main character.  In other future books of mine, I may not need to use the heading, but it was essential in this series.

 

I respect your wish to keep the characters and their times in each chapters separate; off the top of my head, it sounds like how Tolkien separated each of the four Books in his latter two LotR tomes after TFotR, eh?  For moments when your separated characters have direct communication with each other from different time zones, that would be tricky, but maybe if they had a phone conversation with each other, you could show only one side at a time?!  Or set up events in one chapter that will be left hanging in suspense for the reader to find out fully in the next chapter?  That could be a cool literary trick.

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