Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock....

I have been thinking a lot about time these past few weeks. More specifically, about how fast time has been speeding by, how I don’t seem to have enough of it and how much time my book should span. My agent revisions have gotten my mind turning, and time seems to be a topic that comes up a lot.

First, there’s the major issue of finding time. My agent is hoping to start subbing my book in January. This is great, but it places a lot of pressure on me to get my book into perfect shape. I signed with her at the end of November and December has been a crazy month. The first week of December was finals for Cleveland State University, where I’m working on completing the MFA program, December is full of holiday festivities (which I’m a huge fan of), we are house hunting (and went through 16 houses in December during two Saturdays) and my school didn’t go on Christmas break until the Tuesday before Christmas. Phew! I have to admit that I was freaking out a little bit the first few weeks. I would come home, trying to get grading done and then write until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Now, however, life has slowed down a bit and I’m able to spend this next week writing, writing, writing.

The other aspect of time that I’ve been dealing with has to do with my book and how much time it spans. I write episodically, so I do sections of a scene during an isolated moment in a character’s life. The scene may be a ten-minute sequence or an event (like a basketball game or party). However, I rarely create a scene that takes place during a whole day, and I don’t think I’ve ever written a scene that spans a few days. I’m not sure why I write this way, but perhaps it’s because I feel like my writing becomes mundane and I start to focus on too many details to move time along. Writing episodically creates an immediacy in the moment for me. I like to think of my writing as snapshots, pictures from different parts of my characters’ lives.

So…the draft of my novel that I have now spans two school year. It starts at the beginning of Kate’s sophomore year and ends during the winter of her junior year. I needed the length to accomplish what happens with her brother, however I feel like I sped through some things (like the summer). I’ve been reworking the manuscript and trying to condense time. I would really like a book that only spans one school year, to keep it moving at a quick pace. In a perfect world, I’d be able to do that, but right now, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to make everything happen if the book is only one year.

I’ve looked at a lot of books I like to see how they deal with time. I feel like most YA books take place during one school year (or less). A few use flashbacks to show a past year or event, but I couldn’t really think of any that span more than a year. The only adolescent book that came to mind was Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, which isn’t classified as YA. What about you? Can you think of books that take place for more than one school year? What do you think the benefits are if your book covers a short amount of time? What do you think the benefits may be to a book that shows a year or two progression for the character?

Luckily for me, time has slowed down for the next week. I have pretty much an open schedule with nothing to do but write, write, write. After a month that has flown by too quickly, I’m going to relax and enjoy the slow motion of the next week.

And...speaking of have one more week to enter my contest for the writer's gloves. Remember, you get points every time you leave a comment/post/Facebook/tweet/MySpace about the contest and/or my blog. Those points can add up and give you a lot of entries! Keep the comments coming!


Melissa said...

This is a great question, Rachel! I, too, looked at a lot of YA books to see how they dealt with time. I think it's really beneficial to have the book in one school year, rather than two, simply because it allows you to see the subtle progressions in the plot, as well as changes in character dynamic a lot more. I honestly can't think of a book that has more than one year, either! Hmmm...I'll have to check.

Good luck with all the continuous revisions, by the way! Editing is always so lengthy, but I'm sure it's all worth it in the end. :)

Amna said...


Something I completely ignored in my first novel. Something I need to focus on my second.

Alice said...

Congratulations again, agency-mate!

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

Actually, all the YA novels I'm thinking of that take place over amounts of time other than a full year take place in less than a full year!

I will keep thinking though.

Jeff Green said...

House hunting is a cool activity. How do you find it?

Rachele Alpine said...

Hi Jeff! I'm enjoying house's very interesting to see how people live. It's frustrating, though, because I think we've pretty much exhausted the area. Now it's more like house stalking b/c we're driving around looking for new houses that go up on the market!