Inconsistency in Time Progression

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Kumiho
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Inconsistency in Time Progression

#1 Post by Kumiho » Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:56 pm

While planning out my VN, I realized that its time progression is inconsistent.

I should probably explain what I mean by this. The first quarter of my VN happens within a fairly brief period of time, and any time progression is merely implied through your typical scene changes. However, once you get to the second and third quarters/arcs, months to years pass between each scene, and the beginning of each scene (some very short) is demarcated by a report of the current season and year. In the final quarter, everything once again happens in a very brief period and no significant time skips occur.

This raised the question: can inconsistency in time progression justified/enjoyable, or does it detract from the story? How can it be made less jarring?

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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#2 Post by halogen » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:54 pm

Your question made me realize that most of the VNs I've read to-date have all taken place over a very brief period of time in-game, with little to no time skips. I don't know if that's a common trend in the genre as a whole, but to answer your question, I believe that if the type of time progression you're describing is necessary for your narrative and plot to be effective, that's fantastic. But if you are fast-forwarding through events that would otherwise help develop characters better or heighten dramatic tension, I think that's when it can be jarring. If an author can cushion the parts before and after such time-skips with good transitions, that probably helps too. Put a bit jokingly, no one likes surprise time travel ;)

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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#3 Post by Kumiho » Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:07 am

halogen wrote:Your question made me realize that most of the VNs I've read to-date have all taken place over a very brief period of time in-game, with little to no time skips. I don't know if that's a common trend in the genre as a whole, but to answer your question, I believe that if the type of time progression you're describing is necessary for your narrative and plot to be effective, that's fantastic. But if you are fast-forwarding through events that would otherwise help develop characters better or heighten dramatic tension, I think that's when it can be jarring. If an author can cushion the parts before and after such time-skips with good transitions, that probably helps too. Put a bit jokingly, no one likes surprise time travel ;)
To mitigate the "surprise time travel" issue, perhaps I could add an additional scene that takes place ~3 years before the original start of the VN and act as a prologue of sorts? Both the prologue and the initial beginning would be prefaced with the season/year, just like the future time skips, which could help ground the idea of recurring time skips earlier on.

To me, the time progression seems necessary, although it's totally possible I'm overlooking obvious alternatives because #tunnelVision. The relevant events are exactly the events I'll be skipping to; the issue is that most of the second arc consists of the MC joining and assimilating into a community she has every reason to hate, and it's important that she grows to love the community regardless. I don't see that happening in the span of a few days to weeks.

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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#4 Post by halogen » Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:08 pm

Kumiho wrote: To mitigate the "surprise time travel" issue, perhaps I could add an additional scene that takes place ~3 years before the original start of the VN and act as a prologue of sorts? Both the prologue and the initial beginning would be prefaced with the season/year, just like the future time skips, which could help ground the idea of recurring time skips earlier on.
I think it's worth trying out, but would this prologue be serving any other purpose? Although I struggle with this particular issue myself, I've heard prologues should be avoided unless you really absolutely need it. Instead of doing the prologue just to get your readers acclimated to the time skips, you might consider prefacing every section of your VN with season/year--sort of like a diary? I'm sure there are other ways to do it without needing to preface time-skips explicitly. I don't have enough experience in this myself to provide adequate advice, but it seems worth playing around with different methods if you've got the time (pun absolutely intended).
Kumiho wrote:To me, the time progression seems necessary, although it's totally possible I'm overlooking obvious alternatives because #tunnelVision. The relevant events are exactly the events I'll be skipping to; the issue is that most of the second arc consists of the MC joining and assimilating into a community she has every reason to hate, and it's important that she grows to love the community regardless. I don't see that happening in the span of a few days to weeks.
Yeah, good call. You definitely don't want to squeeze that kind of development into a short time-period.

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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#5 Post by YossarianIII » Sun Dec 06, 2015 5:30 pm

Kumiho wrote:This raised the question: can inconsistency in time progression justified/enjoyable, or does it detract from the story? How can it be made less jarring?

I know this is sort of a lame, generic answer, but I think you can do pretty much anything as long as you have a good reason and make things clear enough for the reader.

Off the top of my head, the movie Old Boy and the book Love in the Time of Cholera both kind of follow the same chronology as you mention. Or even think of the montages in Rocky or of all those times where they just kind of hang out in a village for a few months in Lord of the Rings. Seems to me that speeding up time in the middle is a valid technique, even for popular stuff that isn't experimental.

IMO, maintaining a logical structure and knowing which events are important enough to dramatize and which can be skipped over is probably the best way to ensure that the transition isn't jarring.


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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#6 Post by Kumiho » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:17 pm

halogen wrote:
Kumiho wrote:
I think it's worth trying out, but would this prologue be serving any other purpose? Although I struggle with this particular issue myself, I've heard prologues should be avoided unless you really absolutely need it. Instead of doing the prologue just to get your readers acclimated to the time skips, you might consider prefacing every section of your VN with season/year--sort of like a diary? I'm sure there are other ways to do it without needing to preface time-skips explicitly. I don't have enough experience in this myself to provide adequate advice, but it seems worth playing around with different methods if you've got the time (pun absolutely intended).
I initially planned to imply elements of the destruction of MC's home throughout the general route regardless, as it does play a large role in the story, and showing the whole thing in the prologue seems like a viable option. However, your idea sounds great, too. And haha! I'll toy around with different ideas as I keep on plotting the details. I have a long way to go before I even begin writing.
YossarianIII wrote:
Understood:) Lol the only work I recognize from your list is LotR, and I haven't read/watched any of even that. Yeah, I agree the primary emphasis should be on clarity. I've also been working on making the time skips of a shorter duration (a few seasons, as opposed to a few years) and combining different scenes so that fewer time skips are needed! Hopefully that will help.

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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#7 Post by Parataxis » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:56 pm

I am concerned that you focusing too much on realism, and not enough on narrative realism. What really matters to the player of your game is what happens ON SCREEN. If you cut from the point when your character enters the community to her assimilation, it could have taken 20 years and you'd still have a bit of trouble selling the audience on it. You say that you " don't see that happening in the span of a few days to weeks" but I can think of a ton of movies which do just that. They get away with it because as long as the audience sees your character change in a way that is believable to then it will work.

The important thing for your game is to SHOW all the stages of the transition, and if you think you can do that fluidly with time skips, then fine. But you are describing sounds really choppy. Because realistically you would be writing one to five scenes and then totally changing the status quo, repeatedly. (A season is a LONG TIME to just skip past) I almost think that covering as much of the transition hates to is-okay-with without a significant timeskip and then jumping directly to 1-year-"already assimilated"-later would be better.

So my advice to you is to carefully think about what you want the audience to feel in this section of the story and what's the best way to accomplish it. Obviously, I don't know what exactly leads up to this in your game, but I caution against tying your hands without even considering if telling a more condensed version of the story is stronger.

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Re: Inconsistency in Time Progression

#8 Post by Eyzi » Wed Dec 09, 2015 12:25 pm

There are ways you can get away with it especially if the story itself demands for it, but I think this is one of the situations where pauses come in handy. Maybe a short description in between scenes, or as an introduction of a new scene, just to give your readers a heads up that a time skip is happening/has happened. As long as you explain why the time skip was necessary (i.e. anything that happened within the time skip is trivial and/or in no way relevant to the story), then the readers won't really mind it at all.

Take it from someone who isn't very fond of time skips.
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