If you’re going back in time, the more practical of us worry about bathrooms (or lack thereof) and general cleanliness—yes, I love writing historical fiction, but what I, and all writers of the genre, gloss over is the fact that people didn’t bathe all that often and those pearly whites that our heroes and heroines flash probably wouldn’t have been so white (fluoride toothpaste? nope). I suppose going into the future, you wouldn’t have that problem—others, quite likely, just not the sanitation issue.
But when we sit down to read a time-travel book (usually romance), it’s the differences in social expectations and culture that fascinate us, whether the character is one from the present going back in time, or one from the past coming forward. There is nothing more fun for a modern person to read than how someone used to life being one way suddenly finds that nothing is the way they think it should be. That disconnect is the real fun and seeing how our hero or heroine deals with it.
And then there’s the time-travel that I’m beginning to write just now. I cheat. Sorry.
I suppose it’s less of a time-travel and more of a past-life experience story. The heroine is hypnotized and goes back to relive a past life where all of the same people in her current life take on new roles—or the same role, only she hadn’t noticed it before.
Am I cheating my readers of the fun of having someone from modern times try to deal with life in the middle ages? Quite possibly. But the story revolves around all that my heroine learns about her present life by living a past one.
Can you tell that I’m really having fun writing this book? I am! In fact, I can hardly wait to get back to it every afternoon (when I finally get a chance to write) and only exhaustion stops me every evening (well, that and hunger). It’s a tale that is pulling me in and making me curse all the other things I have to do in my ordinary life.
It took me some time to get to this point. It took a lot of looking at my characters, analyzing who they are and what their problems are. I had to sit and go through story structures and figure out how the events would unfold and where the romance would come in. How to blend the stories of my hero and my heroine who each have their own stories to live through as well as the one they share. But it’s all set now. I’ve got my W structure on the wall, my outline all filled out, my Scrivener list of scenes drawn up all ready and waiting for me to live the story and write it down so that you can read it and live it along with me. I’m setting off on this journey with these people who live today and live years ago, both. And I’ve got to weave together all the strings of the book so that they come together in the end into a beautiful knot—a blend of time and desire, problems and solutions, people learning and growing.
What are your favorite time-travel stories? Are they about someone going back in time or someone coming forward?