|THE READER by Fragonard (1732-1806)|
This whole concept got me thinking about the dichotomy between author time, book time and reader time. Think about this: an author takes several weeks to months to write a single title. In those months, she may cover only a few days or weeks in the life of her characters and then when the reader picks up the story, she may spend mere hours devouring it. Of course my story didn't feel rushed to me...I'd spent months writing it, but it felt rushed to the reviewer because not only had the actual events spanned only a couple of weeks overall, but she'd only spent a few hours reading it from start to finish.
She'd been in the pressure of the crucible and found it wanting. If we're honest, we've probably all read books where this kind of timewarp has sent our brains reeling a bit. Readers who take a week or more to finish a book may not experience the same sense of whiplash, but the truth is - no reader is going to spend as much time with a book as the author does.
Which was one of the early lessons in my craft for me - and one I needed the reminder of this review to pay heed to. When crafting our stories, we all must make sure the author sense of time does not make the reader's sense of time too jarring. It doesn't matter if I spend an entire year writing a book, I need to be aware that my reader is going to give it hours, or at most - days.
It's your turn: can you remember the shortest (in character time) romance novel you read, or the longest? What struck the most about the story and did it end up on your keeper shelf?
I will admit to avoiding saga length stories like the plague. Seriously...if I discover a story is going to cover several years, much less decades, I have no interest in reading it. Which may well be why the crucible of my stories are often comprised of fewer calendar days for my characters. :) We write what we love to read. :)