Lately, it seems that when I read fiction, the days of the week seem to disappear. The character might have other time markers like dinner, but the days of the week are absent.
That might be a result of our crazy lives. Technology has caused work and home to blur. But human beings are hard-wired for time. We work Monday through Friday. We get up at a specific time. I know what day NCIS comes on (there are priorities, after all).
But if time isn’t there, it can confuse readers. The last thing you want is a reader paging back, trying to figure out why the time feels so off.
GOALPOSTS OF TIME
Having days of the week is a very simple way to add internal structure to the story. But it also serves many other purposes:
- How the timing of events can impact the characters
- Adds a sense of motion to the story (in addition to the five senses, humans also have a sense of time)
- Adds to the aboutness of the world, whether it’s futuristic or modern day.
Time is always important. It also doesn’t take much to add it.
HOW TO ADD TIME
At the beginning of each scene, stop and think about what day of the week it is. Think about the kinds of events that would happen on specific days or how your characters react to those days. It’s an opportunity for more story, too!
Add something to the scene to anchor it on that day. It could be an event like church on Sunday, or a tie-in to a secondary storyline like a Friday night date.
Finally, keep track of what day it is. If you use a reverse outline, you can toss it in there. Scrivener’s index cards will work great.
Share how you keep track of time in your story!