Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Playing With Time

I saw a great little movie the other day that got me thinking about time. More specifically, about playing with time in your stories.

The movie I saw was "500 Days of Summer."

I recommend this movie if you like romantic comedies at all, because it's a really good one. It was fresh because it was told from the guy's point of view, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is just oh-I-want-to-rumple-your-hair cute in it. He does the heartbroken, hit-by-a-truck look very nicely. :) Besides great dialogue and humor, this movie also played with the relationship timeline. It jumps back and forth, rather than going in chronological order. And it did a fantastic job of it!

Another movie that messes with time is "The Time Traveler's Wife," which I haven't seen. But I want to. If nothing else than because Eric Bana is what my nephew will look like when he grows up. It's pretty freaky really. I watched Eric Bana in the "Incredible Hulk" with my husband and we had our mouths open, not because of the movie but because Bana's facial expressions, the way he moved, and his looks were eerily similar to our nephew. We're talking could have been identical twins except one's 30 years older than the other eerily similar.

I haven't read the book, either, though it's hovered for a long time in the back of my brain in my mental list of "I think I'd like to read that book someday." So I can't say a whole lot about it, but I do know the story premise and know that it also treats time loosely.

I began wondering if I could pull something off like that in my writing. The Timeline Structure is an actual plot structure. Author Holly Lisle, in her Create a Plot clinic writes:

You the writer can do some amazing things with time. Unlike mere mortals, you can stop it, slow it down, run it in reverse, and leap forward or backward days, years, centuries, and eons, all with the merest flick of your finger.

Of course, while I'm writing this I can't think of any good book examples. (I'll probably wake up at 2:00 a.m. tonight with a whole list.) If you think of some will you leave them in the comments so I can check them out? Pretty please?? *batting eyelashes* One of these stories of mine, I'm going to give it a shot.

And who knows, if your story seems a little blah going from the beginning to end, maybe playing with time is just what you need to spice it up. "500 Days of Summer" wouldn't have been half as good if it started at Day 1 rather than Day 300 something-or-other.


Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh, now I want to see 500 DAYS OF SUMMER!

Deborah said...

It's not a book, but the movie is really cool. The latest Star Trek does a fantastic thing with time.

L.T. Elliot said...

I haven't seen/read either of those. I'm thinking about it though. And I'm totally with Deborah on the Star Trek. Brilliant, really.

ElanaJ said...

I want to see that movie too! Um, Skin Hunger does some cool stuff with time. Two stories set centuries apart? Um, yeah. :)