I went to BookCon 2018 in New York, and attended a bunch of great panels. Of course, I won’t post the content of anyone’s actual presentation, as that’s not mine to share. However, I hope you benefit from these thoughts on what I learned, and some ideas on how I plan to apply them in my own journey.
“Oh, so you’ve figured out how time travel works?”
I traveled to another dimension (maybe) to sit in on a great (definitely) panel all about using time travel in writing with some of my favorite (amazing) authors in the world — Deborah Harkness, Naomi Novik, and V.E. Schwab. Talk about a dream panel to discuss time travel!
Here are a few of my favorite things each of them had to say:
DH: Time travel in your story shouldn’t be a straitjacket, or a narrow set of rules. It’s funny when a reader comes up to me and says, about one of my books, “But that’s not how time travel works.” I like to reply with, “Oh, so you’ve figured out how time travel works?” Your goal is to transport the reader, and time travel is another way to do that, whatever way works best for the story.
NN: People have always been people, and you can have a lot of fun when you put people in situations that are unusual to them. No matter what era you’re writing about, whether you transport someone from the present to the past or the past to the future, it’s only the context that has changed. Humans, from the things we care about, to the things that pain us, to the things we fear, are shared, and therefore relatable.
VS: Physical location may be as close as we can get to time travel. We have records of what happened, but those are a very small slice of reality. There are stories behind why some things are still standing, and why others were lost, and a gravestone, building, or artifact that still exists today can be a small way to touch a piece of that history. But there is opportunity for a new story when we bring our own interpretation, context, and lens to the information.
There was plenty more, and the panel gave me a lot to think about as I am incorporating time travel elements in my own writing.
How about you? Do you have thoughts about how time travel should (or shouldn’t) be used in a story? What’s your favorite (or least favorite) example of time travel? Please share in the comments.
Happy time traveling!
Photo of tunnel by Ghost Presenter on Stocksnap
Photo of clock face by Tuur Tisseghem on Stocksnap
Photo of historic buildings by Tim Martin on Unsplash