If Walls Could Talk: Time Travel

M.H. Norris

There’s a lot of talk about time travel this week. It seems to be becoming a theme, and, as we know things, themes tend to come in threes. I decided to make this week’s blog post the third in the set.

What are the other two, you might ask?

  1. The TVCU crew interviewed the authors of So You Created a Wormhole. I even made a cameo as the guest host of the week. Let me take a second and brag on these guys. They spend a lot of time getting the show ready and talking things through. It was an honor to get to work with them for a week to get things ready and to talk time travel with people who enjoy it. You can listen to it here.
  2. Kairos Kore, a new podcast that focuses on time travel, aired its first episode yesterday. Hosted by yours truly, week to week I’ll be discussing various aspects of time travel from mechanics, to its place in popular media, to anything and everything temporal. You can listen to it here.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the fact that I have a writing bucket list. Writing about time travel in it is high on the list. And, eventually, I plan to get to it.

But what are some things to look for when writing time travel?

We all have our story of when we fell in love with it. When I was young, I don’t think I realized just how in love with the subject I would fall. I was too young to notice paradoxes or inconsistencies, but the story of Marty McFly and Doc Brown is one I fell in love with.

When writing time travel, here are something things you need to consider.

Define Your Terms

This might seem obvious, but when writing your own time travel universe (or writing in someone else’s) you need to have your terms defined. Such as:

  • Paradox
  • Alternate Universe
  • Parallel World
  • Multiverse
  • Time

Some of these may seem obvious, but I know of people who spend a lot of time trying to determine these (myself included).  Knowing you have set meanings to these terms will help you when you are writing. Otherwise, you might find a paradox the size of Belgium in your book.

Know Your Method

Also may seem obvious but how are you getting to your temporal destination. DeLorean? Transdimensional Police Box? Hot Tub? Space Ship? Magic Stones in Scotland?

This method is yours for the choosing and you might not reveal everything, but you need to know all of the details. Knowing your stuff helps you to write.

Should your book blow up and be a best seller, nerds like me will come out of the woodwork and question your every temporal move. Make sure you can outsmart us (within the confines of your own universe, at least).

Know Your Rules

Can time be changed, or are travelers just observers? Can the same person have two versions in the same spacetime coordinates? How flexible is time? Are there fixed points?

All these things, and more, need to be figured out. They will come up (either in your book or when the nerds come with their crazy amount of questions).

After all, this is your universe and you should take great care in worldbuilding while working on your story. And, if you are breaking one of your rules, make sure you have a reason.

Be creative

I’ll admit, it’s this one that’s holding me up from cranking out a time travel epic. I’m trying to find a fun, unique concept that uses time travel and hasn’t been beaten to death. And trust me, that’s easier said than done.

Be creative when coming up with your premise. Cliches and Tropes are like landmines when it comes to time travel and you should take caution lest you step on one.

Don’t Let Anything Else Slide

Don’t let your characters, plot, writing quality, or any other element of craft fall through. Because you may think you can fall back on “Oh, look, I’m writing about time travel,” but Iit won’t work.

Make sure you have great writing, good characters, a solid world for them to live in, and a plot for your readers to love.

That being said, good luck and see you down the time line.

The World of the Wall:

  • 18thWall Productions has two podcasts currently out and running along. Stuff and Nonsense: Beyond Wonderland and Kairos Kore. Keep your eyes peeled here and on iTunes–more will be coming in the near future, and our podcast homepage will be launching soon.