Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Covering time

A writer e-mailed me to ask, "Is it OK that my book covers only like a month in the entire novel, and that I don't skip too many days?"

This is a great question! I'm amazed by the things you guys think to ask.

In short, yes. Books can cover any kind of time span. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet spans several generations. Sarah Dessen's books are often set in the summer. The books in Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series usually cover a month. I'm trying to think of a book that only covers a day or week but I'm only coming up with movies. Orange County (which is one of my faves, being a writer) all takes place within 24 hours, I'm pretty sure. I have a fantasy about writing a book that takes place within 24 hours, but so far the right story hasn't presented itself.

There really is no ideal of "a book should cover this amount of passing time." You just do what the story needs.

Does that answer your question sufficiently?

Have a writing question? Email me!


  1. In classic literature, we have the Russian "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" which is literally that--one day in the life of a man in a prison camp in Siberia.

    I think one Heartsong I've read (Larkspur Dreams) was over the course of a week--most of it in one weekend.

    Then the one I just finished covers, oh, eight years. =) All a matter of the story and what it demands for sure!

  2. I loved Orange County too :)
    IT's one of our favorites. :D

    thanks, girl.

  3. I found this question very interesting. Most of my books span a short period of time, as well. The only published book I can think of at the moment that covers a month or less is The Cellist of Sarajevo. It is an excellent book. And it only covers a period of several days.

  4. American Diaries: Maddie Retta Lauren takes place in one afternoon. Love that book.

  5. In The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Jennifer E. Smith manages to write a whole romance within 24 hours. Don't ask me how she did it:)