Thursday, May 2, 2013

happy wizard independence day!

May 2nd, 1998 - The Battle of Hogwarts. The Order fought nobly, even after they believed Harry to be dead. Severus Snape, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Colin Creevey, Lavender Brown, and many others gave their lives in the fight against evil. Ron and Hermione finally shared their first kiss. Mrs. Weasley killed Bellatrix Lestrange, Neville Longbottom killed Nagini, and Vincent Crabbe killed himself with his own stupidity - 

And oh yeah, Harry Potter killed Lord Voldemort.

Yeah, I pretty much have the coolest birthday ever.

So yes, my birthday is on wizard independence day (I was six when it all happened....if it had all really happened....) but that's not what this post is about. This post is about the use of dates in writing.

Reading the books, I didn't need to know that this all happened on May 2nd - I didn't find out until almost two years after Deathly Hallows came out. I knew it was near the end of the school year, and that was all I needed to know. I was too focused on the action to care about the actual date that it all took place on.

But J.K. Rowling knew. She knew all along all the important dates in her novels. When you read her books, there's no confusion about the passage of time. Even if you don't know the date, you're never distracted or lost by a sudden change in season.

In my experience as a reader and as a writer, I think this is incredibly important. If you're not sure when something's happening, your readers won't be either. But when you are - when you know every specific detail - you'll write it into your story without even realizing it. When your details are specific, then your readers are free to focus on the action and not when it's happening, because everything will work together and make sense.

Now that that's all been said, birthday wishes may commence.

....Yeah, I kinda love Tangled.

Do you think it's important to know the dates of important events in your books?



  1. Happy Birthday to my super talented, amazing daughter! I think you're comments totally make sense. Sometimes I read books and they loose me with the chain of events. I get confused about the time line. I agree that a writer knowing exactly what a date is and what the time line is will help the reader to not get tripped up by little inconsistencies. Very insightful!

  2. Happy Birthday! LOVE the gifs and the lesson about dates in writing from JK Rowling. Whole college degrees can be built around her books. Amazing depth and attention to detail! I have trouble with dates, but I'm finding Scrivener to be pretty helpful with that. Each chapter has a space for notes, and I can keep timeline details there to orient myself (six days after the accident, four weeks before the wedding, for example). It can get pretty confusing for the author and, like you said, we don't want the reader to be confused at all. In the end, they'll probably only notice the weather and holidays, but closer readers will be able to follow a linear timeline, even with all my jumping around. Great post!

    Have an especially lovely day. Swing from some trees!


Share your passion!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...