Time Travel Made Easy

Thriller novelist Robert Crais is masterful when it comes to condensing time in order to keep a story flowing.

In his novel, “Taken,” Crais writes: “I tossed the phone on the couch, locked the door and followed the Hollywood Freeway south toward downtown Los Angeles.”

robert-crais-lg_categorySee what he did there?

His protagonist, Elvis Cole, is talking on a wireless phone. Done, he throws it onto the couch. He grabs his wallet and car keys, etc., and heads to the door, locking it behind him. He walks to his car. Gets in, turns over the engine, backs out of his space, drives out of his neighborhood, hits the freeway, navigating through the perpetual annoyances of L.A. traffic, ad infinitum, ad fuggedaboudit.

Told the way I just did, it’s pretty damn dull. Tell it the way Crais does, and your brain fills in all those in-between details.

“I tossed the phone on the couch…” – he’s in a hurry, no time for the nicety of returning the phone to where it belongs – “…locked the door…” – There’s a scene shift hidden in there: we start interior, in his house, then we’re outside – “…and followed the Hollywood Freeway south toward downtown Los Angeles.”

Twenty words.

Clean, tight writing.


About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on February 5, 2013, in Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Time Travel Made Easy.

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