I Will Tell This Story In _ Hours

The concept of a story within a set period of time has always interested me. Readers know how many chapters there are going to be: rather than keeping them guessing on how long before the story is concluded they have a sense of urgency as the events in the story unfold.

Take 24 (the TV series) as an example. The concept is pretty simple to grasp: each episode is 1 hour (of a day), and 24 makes up the entire season. This makes for pretty interesting plotting: you have the end in sight, now what is going to happen within those 24 hours?
Another example of this is Life Of Pi. Early on in the novel Yann Martel tells us he would give us Pi’s amazing story in exactly 100 chapters. As the book went on I found myself wanting the book to last longer, and I used the chapters as a yardstick for how much story there was left.

This has an interesting effect. In 24 the characters are plunged into a crisis, and the writers throw complication after complication at them. In writing, set periods coupled with non-stop hurdles prove for very interesting stories. When your characters are in deep, deep trouble readers are probably wondering how you’re going to get them out again … which is very good if you’re writing with a need of holding the reader’s attention.

Like, for instance, the computer screen.

I wonder how far I can push this concept – really short storytelling in … 25 chapters? Should be interesting, don’t you think?

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Category: Learning To Write · Meta · Writing