Time in literature

There are so many nuances to writing, and it is important that the writer pay attention to every aspect of the narrative or the points that are being made. If the writer wants to give a particular sense of monotony or fast paced action, the way he uses time can be crucial In his classic novel, The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann has this to say about the way time works in a narrative:

“That may well cause amazement–and yet it is perfectly in order and corresponds to the laws of how stories are told and listened to. Because both good order and the laws of narrative require that our experience of time should seem long or short, should expand or shrink, in the same way it does for the hero of our story, for young Hans Castorp, who quite unexpectedly has found himself impounded by fate. It may also be useful to prepare the reader for other wonders and phenomena that are connected with the mystery of time and that we shall encounter while in his company–quite apart from this striking instance. But for now it is enough for us to remind everyone how quickly a number of days, indeed a great number, can pass when one spends them as a patient in bed. It is always the same day–it just keeps repeating itself. Although since it is always the same day, it is surely not correct to speak of “repetition.” One should speak of monotony, of an abiding now, of eternalness. Someone brings you your midday soup, the same soup they brought you yesterday and will bring again tomorrow. And in that moment it comes over you–you don’t know why or how, but you feel dizzy watching them bring in the soup. The tenses of verbs become confused, they blend and what is now revealed to you as the true sense of all existence is the “inelastic present,” the tense in which they bring you soup for all eternity. But one can’t speak of boredom, because boredom comes with the passing of time–and that would be a paradox in relation to eternity. and we want to avoid paradoxes, particularly if we are to live with our hero.”

Good writing requires paying attention to detail and creating a world where the reader can be fully immersed in the story or message that is being relayed. It’s about communicating through every available sense and medium.

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