A Writing Problem I’m Struggling With

A few of you longer term readers MAY recall I keep threatening to get the reboot of my Witchfire series underway. One of the problems I’ve run into is that instead of just doing a cancel and start all over at the beginning (like Television and movies do), I wanted to add a twist and create a situation where our heroine ends up back at day 1 via unintended time travel, and has the opportunity to correct some of her mistakes of the past few months of story time.

Part of me is iffy on the whole idea in the first place. About a year and a half ago I wrote a post on using time travel creatively in fiction instead of using it as a get out of jail free card for bad writing (among other things). It feels like I *am* using it as an easy out to fix what I didn’t like about the first nine chapters though. At the same time, I can add a few other unique and exciting twists that will keep the reboot from becoming the same old “let’s go back in time and fix things” cliche.

The bigger stumbling block for me is the temporal mechanics involved; ie ‘the how it works’ aspects that keep the plot device believable for readers and workable for the writer. Here’s the options I’ve explored:

The standard comic book situation where there just can be multiple versions of characters working side by side. Witchfire is a little overpowered vs the other characters to start with, and two of her could make the story really unbalanced. Multiple iterations of more than one character could get confusing for readers also, so I don’t see this as a viable option.

Two easy options around this would be something like ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Quantum Leap’, where a character passes out when confronted with their future self, OR is whisked off to some ‘waiting room’. Taking the original out of the picture leaves that character NOT experiencing the events that the future version did though. THEN the future version doesn’t have those events / memories to draw upon anymore. In short, it works if the traveler is only going to be there briefly. Long term, we get plot holes.

I could make the original nine chapters a dream that Witchfire recalls as she goes forward, but let’s face it, THAT has been the ultimate writing cliche and cop out since the resolution of the “Who Shot JR” thing back in the 1980s version of Dallas. I just couldn’t do that without hating myself, lol.

NEVER do this to your readers!

The closest thing I’ve come to finding a workable option is that if a time traveler comes face to face with their past self, the two beings merge into one. This eliminates the writer being saddled with multiple incarnations of the same character running around together, and by extension makes the story easier to follow for the reader.

It’s convenient, but still feels slightly… contrived(?) to me. There’s also the question of do the characters simply un-merge when / IF the time traveler goes back to the future (as opposed to just waiting for time to catch up to the point they traveled). Easy enough to say yes, but does the earlier version retain the later version’s memories and skills that may have been learned? They did essentially share a mind and body after all.

These MAY seem like minor points or questions on the surface, but we’re talking about a plot device that will set the tone early, and may flavor various events as the story progresses. Getting everything correct and coherent is going to be HUGE in how readable the story is.

SO, is there an option I left out? A way to put a little polish on the “merger” idea that might make it feel less awkward? Let me know.

8 thoughts on “A Writing Problem I’m Struggling With

  1. richardbist

    Probably not a great suggestion, but perhaps having two Witchfires in the same “space” affects one in a way that makes her turn on the other. Like a self-defense mechanism. That would give you some interesting conflict to explore.

    Time travel is difficult regardless of how it’s addressed. Except in Endgame. 😂

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    1. Silk Cords Post author

      On the surface, it’s not a bad idea BUT part of the reason I’m doing a “reboot” is that the personal drama between characters got excessive. Somewhere between “My Little Pony” and “Buffy” there’s an ideal balance of character conflict and interaction.

      Endgame did some things well and some things poorly. Time travel, they actually did fairly well. The big plot hole was that Marvel’s own rules are that whenever you time travel you only create a parallel reality, as the Ancient One explained to Hulk. Being careful doesn’t change that.

      Note that Marvel largely sidestepped my issues by having the characters avoid their other selves, with the exception of Cap fighting himself AND Nebula getting caught by her other self. It worked though because it was something short term to give the audience a thrill. If Nebula had kept her future self prisoner long enough, she might have never changed sides

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    1. Silk Cords Post author

      Great minds, once again. 😉 I was pondering the same solution and how to tailor it to the story last night. At this point, I’m either going to go with that, or a plain, clean reboot.

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    1. Silk Cords Post author

      Hah, it posted twice. 😀

      I like it also, even though it’s hard to do correctly. At this point however, creative difference with my former collaborator mean I’m almost certainly going to just go for a (mostly) clean reboot.

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