Thursday, 26 December 2013

12 days of writing: time


Time and attitudes



Choose a time or era to write about - whether it's historical or a decade you lived through. (Wikipedia has a handy list of time periods if you want inspiration.) If you're already building a story, use or choose when that's set.

A story's time setting affects every part of its characters' lives - we're going to explore the attitudes. Two common pitfalls are to have characters echo contemporary politically correct views, or to go with the era's views but make it one-size-fits-all, with everyone thinking exactly the same. Avoiding these two extremes lets you needle out the subtleties, which are much more interesting.

Use these questions as prompts, to write about the time's attitudes:

  • What attitudes are different in your chosen time? Think about race, religion, acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, social attitudes, relationship structures and expectations, gender, power, money, freedom, equality...
  • What are our contemporary positions on that? What yardsticks do we use? Would they have seen it completely differently?
  • If you're already building a story from the previous days: Which of those are relevant to / impact on your story? What positions might your character(s) hold within those attitudes? How does that change the growing story?
  • If you're not building a story: place yourself inside the era. Which of its attitudes would be relevant to / impact on you? What positions might you hold within those attitudes? How does that change your life?

Tomorrow, we're writing with... Plot-layering.

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