Friday, 5 February 2016

The Headaches of Time Travel

Today, I welcome Meaghan McIssac onto the blog. Meaghan is the author of Urgle and her latest,  Movers. Movers is a sci-fi novel where some people are born with powers to move people throughout time, even though doing this is very illegal. 

In this post, Meaghan talks about how she kept everything time-travel straight in her head while writing Movers. Not only in her first draft, but during her edits as well. As always, my thanks goes to Meaghan (@MeaghanMcIsaac on Twitter) for writing this post for us today and to Harriet (@HarrietDunlea) for setting this all up! Now, over to Meaghan!

So, you want to travel through time on a word scribbling endeavor, do you? If jet lag is a problem for you, you wouldn't believe the headaches that come your way when you try to move through the space-time continuum. But never mind, I can see you are determined to make your way to another day, another time, forwards or backwards. So all I can do, fearless traveller, is my best to prepare you for the rough journey ahead. Strap in.
If you're going to travel through time, the first thing you need is a map — a road plan for the whole trip, a timeline. Whether going forwards or backwards, map out the years from NOW, or whatever your now happens to be, to your year of destination. Be it yesterday, the Jurassic era, next week or the year 2383, there's a lot of space between now and then, and a lot that can happen. You have to know what occurred between these two points, because those events affect EVERYTHING that happens in the NOW and happens in the THEN. Believe me, you'll need to reference the timeline A LOT. Unfortunately, you won't have a navigator and you'll be trying to focus on driving, but still, if you can tear your eyes from the wheel long enough to glance at the timeline roadmap, it really helps keep things on track. If I hadn't had a timeline while working on Movers, I'd probably still be floating somewhere between page 160 and 161. The timeline showed me the way. If you don't have one packed, I suggest you do that. Now. RIGHT NOW.
Even with your timeline roadmap, you'll have to go back and retrace your steps...again and again...and again...and probably again. I rewrote Movers — wait, let me count the drafts — six times. That's the same journey, six times. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Just enough to memorize the route so that eventually, you can avoid the wrong turns and detours. And in those first drafts, there will be many, many wrong turns. Fear not, fearless time journey person! Wrong turns are just a part of traveling through time! Embrace them! But then fix them. Over and over and over again.
Time Travel claims a lot of lives. Like a lot a lot. Somewhere between draft 2 and draft 5 of Movers, a great many of Pat and Gabby's friends didn't make it. The body count, last I checked, was at five. I may be forgetting some people. We laughed, we cried, we travelled far together, as a group. But in the end, these darlings had to go. If you find your journey is weighed down by the deadweight of superfluous characters, pitch 'em overboard, shove 'em out the hatch, leave 'em behind and never look back. Time travel demands you pack light — that includes the people you take with you. It's a harsh reality, fearless traveller, so ask yourself: do you have the heart?
The grandfather paradox will eat your brain. What is the grandfather paradox? OK, crash course: the grandfather paradox asks basically (and I mean very basically because this is as far as I understand it), if you travelled back in time to kill your grandfather before he met your grandmother, then your dad would never be born, then you would never be born in the future, and therefore you could never go back in time in the first place to kill him. Take a second, digest that. Dizzy yet? Try to fix it all you want, this sucker is gonna pop up again and again in one form or another. At some point, you just have to say...whatever. If the world explodes, then the world explodes. But for the sake of the journey, you just gotta carry on. So carry on, fearless traveller. Try your best to swerve away from the paradox potholes, but if you plow through a little one every now and then, don't beat yourself up. You may come away battered and bruised, but you'll survive, gosh darnit!
So, worthy adventurer, knowing all that I've just told you, I wish you all the luck in the universe on your time travel journey. It's a hard beast to wrangle, but if you have the guts, it's a journey you'll enjoy from start to finish. 

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