Six Tips for Writing Better Time Travels

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  1. You create the fictional world and the rules that govern it. Be consistent with those rules. You're writing fantasy, but even fantasy needs a strong foundation.

  2. If you're bringing a character from past to present, remember you're bringing a lot of intricate psychological baggage. Attitudes toward sex, for one thing, were very different in the 18th century than they are in the 20th. Thomas Jefferson was brilliant but he wasn't a feminist. Keep your characters in step with their own upbringing. That's part of the fun...and the conflict.

  3. Unless you're a physicist, be careful what plot device you use to initiate the time travel itself. I've heard editors say that if one more character bumps his/her head and wakes up in another century, they'll scream.

  4. Remember that in romance most readers are more interested in what happens after the characters travel through time, not in the mechanics of how they traveled through time. Be clever, be inventive, be somewhat grounded in possibility but don't inundate the reader with ten pages of information on the existence of wormholes in deep space. That's not what she's looking for. These are still character-driven stories, not plot-driven.

  5. Much of the fun in reading time travels is experiencing the unfamiliar world through the eyes of your time-traveling character. But keep in mind that as the popularity of time travel novels increases, the boredom threshold of time travel readers will decrease. Simply put, I'm beginning to hear rumbles from readers these days that say "enough with the angst over the lack of running water, let's get on with the story!" Give the reader the experience she's looking for, but strive to do it in a way that's fresh and different.

  6. And going back to my first suggestion about setting up the rules and sticking to them? Good advice, sure, but in the long run don't be afraid to ignore everything I've said and go with your gut instinct, because that's what we're really talking about. When you venture into the world of the paranormal, you're heading down a long dark road and you can't see beyond your own headlights. The road twists and turns; there are steep hills and hairpin curves, but that only adds to the excitement. Trust your characters! Trust yourself!

Whether it's time travel or reincarnation, things that go bump in the night or guardian angels, we're talking about writing from the heart. And isn't that what romance writers do better than anyone?

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