Time Travel Thoughts

I’m currently in the Research & Development phase of my Work In Progress which reminds me of the character Conrad (Jason Bateman) in the movie The Longest Week:

Narrator: …At present, he was working on his magnum opus – a great New York novel in the tradition of Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton. It was widely speculated as to where he was in the process of writing it. When asked, he would simply reply…

Conrad Valmont: I’m in the gathering stages.

Narrator: Conrad had been in the “gathering stages”for several years now.

This seed has been around for several years as well, but for various reasons the time has come to push it to the front of the idea list. The idea includes a time travel/historical element and since that has been done before it is hard to make it not derivative. These concerns keep putting me off, and yet, I keep coming back to the drawing board.

The actual act of time travel requires many world building solutions to everyday questions: what’s so special about this character that s/t/he/y gets to travel through time, what is the time travelers purpose when s/t/he/y is in another time, why time travel and not just historical fiction, how does the time travel work, does it work only to a single specific time/multiple times/past & future, can the traveler go back & forth or forward & back at will, can the traveler determine the time before s/t/he/y go, how does the main character return? (I’ve been reading and watching a lot of time travel movies/shows.)

Here’s a quick list (to organize my thoughts) of how time travel tends to work in fiction.


  • Time Machine or device (Back to the Future, Bill & Ted, Annum Guard Series (YA), Into the Dim (YA series). This allows the character to go to different pre-set times/worlds unless something happens to the device. TARDIS.)
  • Geometric (tesseract ala A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Wormhole
  • Tachyon
  • Rip in universe
  • Hypnosis
  • Time ray (comics often villain has this)
  • Remote Control
  • Radiation
  • Alien assistance
  • Cryogenics
  • Gaseous fog
  • Weather or Earth event
  • Interaction with Future Traveler who has superior technology

Endowed Magical Object/Person:

  • Book (Magic Tree House series: Morgan Le Fay is “Time Librarian.” Inkheart series. Really world traveling but still.)
  • Fairies, Witches, Ghosts (Christmas Carol)
  • Guardian Angel (It’s a Wonderful Life)
  • Artifact in pieces (The Story of the Amulet)
  • Artifact (Time-Turner in Prisoner of Azkaban)
  • Artifact + magical words
  • TARDIS (Fits here as well because it looks like a regular police box. Note: I’m not a Dr. Who super-fan so don’t skewer me.)

Magical Portal:

  • Fog (The Fog of Forgetting)
  • Wardrobe (Narnia series)
  • Door (The Devil’s Arithmetic)
  • Gate
  • Large historical structure ie: Standing Stones (Outlander)


  • Genetic issue (Time Traveler’s Wife)
  • Heart attack
  • Blow to the head (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court)


  • Sleep (Rip Van Winkle)
  • Fainting (Peggy Sue Got Married)
  • Random flash of light, etc.

This list is not at all exhaustive and I’d love for others to chime in (in the comments) with their own thoughts and examples.

Stuck in the middle

I haven’t disappeared. I’m here, but working. Writing each morning from 5:30 am until 7:30 then getting my kids out the door. But right now I’m stuck and I figure that if I just keep my fingers moving an idea might come. I’m in the middle of my novel. Page 55. That middle point just before the climax where I need to start ramping up the action but I’m not exactly sure what the climax is so I’m typing, but not really liking the results.

This week I’ve been leading a poetry workshop for a first grade classroom. I love being with them, their excitement is infectious. This class is my son’s class and his teacher is fabulous. She spends the entire month of April celebrating Poetry Month. I am the finale to their month of reading and writing. This week we’ve looked at their own class-written poetry noticing figurative language that they are already using to “paint pictures in the reader’s head.” We are focusing on metaphor and alliteration and the writing process. I explained how I am constantly revising my work. I showed them drafts and notes and drawings in my sketch book that informed my poetry. When I  got the kids settled at their desks for some writing time, Mrs. K leaned over to me and said, “First graders don’t really like to change things.” I had to laugh. As a substitute teacher I know that first graders are the most inflexible of creatures. They always correct you explaining that, “That’s not the way we do it, Mrs. Boll.” So getting them to revise has been difficult.

The other thing is that they have been working all year on writing complete sentences. Their poetry tends to be a couple of really nice sentences without the rhythm or song of poetry. They can find rhyme and alliteration and metaphor in poetry that is already written. Now they need to be able to transfer that knowledge into their own writing. Anyone who writes poetry knows that is no easy task.  Now they have two rough drafts. One done on a rainy day and one done on a sunny day. I’m hoping that they can take their ideas and build it into a piece they feel proud of.

Tomorrow is poetry Friday. I’ll post the sonnet I made for the Prairie Home Companion contest. Happy writing and re-vising.