An evil puzzle

Yesterday morning–a day ahead of schedule /cheer–I finished going thru all the line edits. The book’s still a mess, but the low-hanging fruit is all dealt with.

As I was going thru the book I made comments about time references. Not just to backstory events but also with respect to linearity within the book’s events. In a prior post I mentioned that my editor suggested combining scenes b/c some were too short and made the book feel choppy.

But, all of those scenes/chapters either happened simultaneously or flowed one after the other with respect to time. Until I started combining scenes. And, b/c I was more focused on fixing & writing new stuff prior to the line edit deadline, I didn’t go back thru and resolve all the timeline issues I created.

So, I gotta do that now.

The graphic above shows the new timeline I created. You can see from the “notes” column:

  1. Where the issues are
  2. Relative time references (must happen after, 2 days before/after, 6 nights until, etc.)
  3. Yes, I’ve hidden some rows & columns because spoilers.

Day 7, Ch. 31, Vaft, is a good example of what I meant when I combined scenes/chapters into one. The events in Ch 31 originally happened across several days…and they still do…but now it seems like they happen immediately after each other. And that implies a backward jump in time when the reader goes to Ch 32.

I know time jumps are common in novels and this probably won’t be an issue with the readers, but a) I’m not quite sure how to handle it and b) I don’t want anything to jolt the reader out of the story. More thought required.

Chapter 33 is an example of a different type of time issue. I’ll call this the “wtf is he doing for X days” problem. One of the major changes pre-line edit was to Vidar’s timeline. I made him more consistently active which (in part) meant moving some of his scenes earlier in the book and writing new ones for him.

But now there are logical gaps in what I need him to be doing. Why would he sit around for 2 days? How long does it take for him to get from A to B & how does that mesh with other scenes? I need the text to implicitly answer those questions should they occur to the reader.

Ch 66 is an example of how important travel times are . I’ve established that it takes Odin 3 nights to get from Gladsheim to Helheim; so 6 nights round trip. He leaves Gladsheim in Ch 66 promising to get back by Midwinter — ergo, 6 nights between Ch 66 and Ch 83. Everything thing else MUST fit into that timeframe and make sense…and everything did…until I broke it.

The timeline is never going to be seen by readers. But, if they choose to figure out how long the book’s events take then they should be able to puzzle it out from clues I leave. And that means making the timeline legit. I’m also completely anal about this stuff and cannot progress until I hammer out the inconsistencies.

I’m giving myself a week to fix the timeline. Once I’ve done that, it’s on to fixing the writing — particularly scene opening/closing hooks–since it makes no sense to do those until I’ve fixed the chapter order.


Fantasy author writing a series inspired by Norse myth.