Quick Links: Time Markers: How to Keep a Reader on Track with Your Story

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Time markers are little hints that keep your readers oriented in your story. Often they are just little details but they help move the story along smoothly. I will admit that I never thought about it, but now that Mary Carroll Moore has brought it to my attention, I see the affect in my favorite stories. Head over to How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book to learn more.

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Time Markers: How to Keep a Reader on Track with Your Story

Business Background and symbolby Mary Carroll Moore Friday, June 24, 2016

A few months ago, I began exchanging chapters with a writer who has an incredible skill with something called “time markers.” I feel very lucky to have her reading my chapters with time in mind. She has caught my natural sloppiness the way a good editor might, saving me and my reader from going off track and losing the story thread.
Are you aware of time markers in your story? They’re vital in fiction and memoir, even in nonfiction. They’re the little mentions of where we are in place, time of day, day of the week, even season, so that readers slide effortlessly through the sequence of events.
Many professional writers use timeline charts as part of their storyboarding or outlining process. They take each person in the story, for instance, and write a timeline of their events in sequence. What time of year it happens (season), then what day, then what time of day. It seems nit-picky when you’re in early drafts, and I don’t usually pay much attention at that stage, but in later revision it’s essential.

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