A writing tip gleaned from C. S. Lewis.
The Time Captives
trilogy has been full of writing struggles for me, from character
development to worldbuilding. One of these struggles was the writing of
journeys. They should be long, who ever heard of a fantasy country it
took two hours to cross? But just journeying on and on with nothing
really happening gets really boring really quick.
was trying to figure out how to write journeys accurately. I researched
how far someone could walk in a day, and didn't get a definitive answer,
but it was enough for me to realize Calhortea must be tiny. It barely
took the Hubbards any time at all to reach Calhortz in the first draft.
It needed to be a bigger world. Yet, I didn't want to do like Month of the Novel
and write "So they walked and they walked and they walked and they
walked and they walked and they walked and they walked and they
walked..." And I had that "show, don't tell" principle in my head.
few months ago, I had a bunch of sewing projects. I like listening to
audiobooks while I sew, otherwise I'm bored, so I got out my Focus on
the Family Radio Theater Narnia audiobooks, and randomly picked The Horse and His Boy.
If you're at all familiar with the story, you know that it is full of
journeying. I have read and listened to that book millions of times, but
that time something hit me. It skips a lot of the traveling!
"shows" the beginning of the journey, how tired and sore Shasta is,
etc. then sets up their system for traveling (every other night Shasta
went into a village and met Bree on the other side). Then it tells that
this went on for weeks and weeks. It doesn't get to "showing" again
until the night they meet Aravis and Hwin. Cool, isn't it?
It just skips the boring parts of the journey where nothing important
happened. And it's okay. It's even preferable.
I noticed this in DragonSpell
by Donita K. Paul as well. It sets up what it's like to travel through
the Bogs, then just says it went on for however long it took for
something to actually happen. It just comes down to
knowing when to show and when to tell. There are times for both, and a
story wouldn't be complete with the omission of one or the other.
There's always stuff to tell and stuff to skip and skim over. As E. Nesbit wrote in The Story of the Treasure Seekers,
"The best part of books is when things are happening....This is why I
shall not tell you in this story about all the days when nothing
happened....So I shall just tell you the nice interesting parts--and in
between you will understand that we had our meals and got up and went to
bed, and dull things like that. It would be sickening to write all that
down, though of course it happens."
So now I don't
worry about just saying they traveled for so long. Something doesn't
have to happen every minute, and it's okay to skim over the weeks of a
journey where nothing really happens.