The Place in Time and the Passing of Time


Place in time

The present vs the past and the future

The people living in the present have some judgement against people from the past. This can go in two directions. Either they believe values dominant in the past hurt people to this day (negative) or the values of the past should be brought into the present (positive). The people also have judgements about the future, based on decisions made in the present and their expected consequences.

The past

The story world and all people in it, have a past. Each person has a personal past, shown through snippet memories and flashbacks. Flashbacks are useful when containing essential memories of skill and or knowledge that is required for survival in the present.

The passing of time

Time ticks away slower in scenes than in exposition. Exposition briefly summarises the important events, though slows reading speed. Scenes (show, don’t tell) aim to feel as if events unfold in real time, while reading speed increases.


Each season comes with its own rituals. The change of season can be used as a powerful expression of the state of the protagonist, either his growth or his decay. Most common use of seasons is:

Summer = trouble brewing, protagonist is vulnerable
Fall / Autumn = Characters begin to decline
Winter = Characters reach their lowest point
Spring = Characters overcome their issues and rise back up


Each holiday has its own ritual and can be used as a dramatic show with strong visuals. These rituals allow for political, personal and social expression of meaning.

Avoid stating the passing of time, instead, show what has changed.

Hours: sun position, shadow length, sun light quality, artificial light use, closed or open curtains, temperature change

Days: weather change, progress in work, plants

Months: change in temperature, change in weather, seasonal changes, business went bankrupt, home is now abandoned

Years: use of buildings has changed, urban development, seedlings are now trees.

Cleaver, J. (2002) Immediate Fiction.
Hall, R. (2014) Writing Vivid Settings.

Truby, J. (2007) The Anatomy of Story