Finnegans Afoot

This novel takes place during the heat of August in the Missouri Ozark mountains. That’s really about as precise as I set the story.

I’ve made up a county so that no one can claim to have been libeled by my characters and the fates that befall them. I spend a good deal of time describing the hiking trail and the old mountains it winds through, and the fictitious towns where some of the story takes place get a sufficient amount of description.

What I haven’t done, though, is give the story a more specific sense of time. Aside from being in the month of August, the reader has no sense of the days of the week. Days do pass, marked most obviously by the morning meals all of the characters share at the bed and breakfast where they stay. To me, that seems sufficient, but I’m reconsidering that.

For the story I am telling, it doesn’t really matter if it begins on a Monday or a Saturday or any other day of the week. My sleuths are semi-retired, so they are not tied to a conventional weekly work schedule. A week’s worth of days pass and the story concludes. And that is that.

But I think I’m doing a disservice to my readers. Even though it doesn’t matter when the story starts and stops for the purpose of the narrative, I think a reader would like a bit more grounding for when things happen. For example, the characters hike the trail on one day then take a day off the trail the next. Then they are back on the trail the third day. Just to help the reader follow along, I understand now that I need to name the days of the week when these things happen.

This will involve a little retro work (but writing is rewriting after all), which should be easy. About the only thing that compels the story to occur on a given day is when my characters are passed on the trail by a bunch of Boy Scouts. The boys would be free from school in August, so they could be hiking on any day, but their adult leaders — huffing and puffing up the trail behind them — would have jobs. Thus I’d have to have them all hiking on a Saturday or Sunday.

With that as an anchor, I can assign the proper sequence of days to the events in my novel. I think this kind of specificity will help the reader stay on track or at least remove the vagueness of the timing, which I think most readers would be bothered by even if they didn’t understand that exactly.

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