DANG! TODAY is #InstaWrimo Day 18 and we’re going to talk a little about time travel. Let me kick this one off by saying I almost always dislike time travelling in storytelling.
And here’s why…
Time travel is so often used as a deus ex machina device in stories. It seems to me, writers literally write themselves into a corner where the only way their hero can be saved is by deus ex machina. And, apparently, time travel ranks pretty high on the list of tricks that can save a writer from having to frog the story and re-write a large part of their creation.
I mean, each to their own and all that, but it’s not for me. It’s normally a hard and fast DNF. I also don’t like it when time travel is an option in a story, but it’s not used in a way that makes sense. Sometimes this happens because the writer is developing a series and things that come in later in the series were not really in the writer’s toolbox before then. Sometimes it happens because writers are human beings too, and can’t always think about every single possibility, but the end result may still annoy or confuse us.
An example of time travel I liked is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It’s clearly defined how it works, and the story that unfolds after Claire has been transported to a certain time and place in the past makes it clear that she can’t just magic herself back to the future.
Another example I enjoy involves interdimensional, or perhaps intergalactic, time travel. In Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, certain characters can travel between planets in the universe. It’s not clear (to me) how this relates to time, but presumably time can work very differently between two different planets.
This is something I have utilised in the Ulfrheim saga. I’m trying to stay true to the Norse mythology and the old Scandinavian sagas and folklore that are connected to the (kind of). We know from the stories that some of the nine homes, the different realms that are connected to the world tree, are above or below the rest of the world. I see them as other dimensions, which (I believe) is similar to Tolkien’s interpretation when he placed the Undying Lands away from Middle Earth.
When Frodo sails away with Gandalf, Bilbo and the elves, Sam stays in the Shire with his wife and children. But after his wife died, some 60 years later if memory serves me right, Sam sets sail for the Undying Lands to reunite with Frodo. When he arrives, he learns that although he’s lived a long life back home, it’s only been a month since they last saw each other for Frodo.
I can’t go into depth with this explanation for spoiler reasons, but suffice to say that there’s an element or two of interdimensional travel in the Ulfrheim stories. And it follows what we “know” to be true in the mythology and our old sagas.
Now, let’s hear your take on time travel. Have you written any time travelling stories? What’s your best/worst examples of time travel in storytelling?
Talk to me in the comments below or send me a message via socials. Also, remember to post the links if you use any of my prompts in your own posts. I’d love to come over and see them.
Thank you for being here today.
See you soon,
© Evalena Styf, 2021
Writing prompt from #NaNoWriMo Preptober InstaWrimo Challenge: 18 October, 2021. “Time travel?”
The #InstaWrimo is a photo challenge for Instagram, but it works just as well as a daily writing prompt.
Here are the daily writing prompts for NaNoWriMo’s preptober challenge. It’s never too late to start, so let’s get into it. Together.