Short-Term Time Travel

I’ll admit it up front, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of traveling through time. I grew with stories about going into the past and “mucking” with the historical timeline AND stories about taking an unauthorized peek into the future. There are tons of great books, movies and television shows that play with variations on that theme.

Short-term time travel is also a viable storytelling conceit. I’m working on a project with a protagonist looking back on the events of the last six months from her hospital bed. If I manage to pull it off, the first two thirds of the narrative with go back and forth between “real time” adventures in her recent past and reflections on what everything means. (And most of all —who among the various groups of people she met during that time frame wants her dead badly enough to try to make it happen!) The last third of the book would be entirely in real time, post hospital as she figures it out.

Coincidentally, right after I wrote the outline for the first third using this particular conceptual framework I loaded a mystery onto my Kindle and discovered that the author used a variation on that theme in order to illuminate the character. In this novel, the protagonist looks back on a pivotal incident from her childhood in periodic “flashbacks” during the “real time” action of the story.

It was an interesting and overall successful gambit. Of course, her purpose was to illuminate the character, discuss the origins of her family’s massive dysfunction and sneak in one important piece of information that would resonate in the final chapter. I’m sort of doing the opposite, going “Back to the Future” at the end of chapters so my protagonist can reflect on what she didn’t notice at the time of the action —including those sneaky little red herrings that may, or may not, be clues in the mystery.

Any thoughts on short-time time travel? Please share!



  1. I rather like books that avoid a linear narrative. It really opens up some great possibilities for storytelling. I’m sure you’ll be able to pull of something truly interesting 🙂

    • Candy Korman

      Fingers crossed — except when they are on the keyboard. This book is multiple experiments and I hope I do manage the juggling of time perspectives as the young protagonist in the hospital bed is wiser and more experienced than she was six months before when the action began.

      We’ll see…

  2. I’ve never used STT all that much but I have read a book called We are [Haiti]. I think that’s right. It was an excellent book and kept me turning those digital pages but it was also a bit tiring because every second chapter would be written in a present tense flashback sort of thing. Was very confusing at first as I couldn’t work out who it was. lol Once I got used to the pattern though it was ok. The story concept sounds very interesting. Thriller/mystery?

    • Candy Korman

      I think that by returning to the hospital bed I’ll avoid the confusion that sometimes comes from a jump in the time line.

      It’s a mystery — a straight out mystery. As I’m trying to outline and plot and chart… it’s taking longer. But maybe the effort will pay off?