Structure and Time-Travel: My Book (#SFWApro)

P1190170This month, I’m focusing almost entirely on Time Travel on Screen which is working out well. While I’d like more variety, my rewrite of the manuscript is coming along and as you know from my movie/TV-review posts, I’m getting a lot of stuff watched. And in the middle of it all, I’m thinking about the structure of the book (which is why I have Glinda of Oz reading a book—art by John R. Neill, all rights to current holder—as an illustration. Which is a flimsy reason, but hey).

My first film book, Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan had no structure. It was a straight A-Z list of movie synopses.

The Wizard of Oz Catalog (okay, now I think I’ve justified the illo) broke down the subject works into categories—original Oz novels, non-canonical Oz, movies, TV shows, radio dramas, stage plays—and then listed synopses in each category, though chronologically rather than alphabetically.

Screen Enemies of the American Way was different as I took a more thematic approach, looking at movies about German subversives, Japanese spies, pod people, fembots and other types of fictional fifth columnists. The synopses were worked into the text of each chapter.

(And don’t forget, there are links to where you can buy them and other stuff by me on the What I’ve Written page. Just sayin’).

Time Travel on Screen is closest to Screen Enemies, but the big difference it’s tougher to decide which chapter to include a given move in. With fifth-column films, it’s obvious whether the villain is a German, Japanese, Islamic or other bogeyman. But Terminator, for example, is both a love-across-time story (“I came here for you, Sarah.”) and a alter-Earth’s-future-history film, so which chapter? And how do I arrange the chapters so the book seems to flow logically (which is probably something nobody else on Earth will give a damn about but it matters to my aesthetics.

The current breakdown is as follows:

Connecticut Yankee adaptations.

•H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, plus Time After Time and other stories where Wells is the time traveler.

•Travel from the present to other eras. For travel to the past, I’ve grouped it by era—visits to Medieval Europe, feudal Japan, the Victorian age, etc.

•Travelers from other times coming to the present. This one I’ve subdivided more by story idea — fleeing a pursuer, seeking breeders (several travelers from the future are looking for 20th century breeding stock, for example Terror From the Year 5000), making friends.

•Time travel to change the past.

•Time travelers from the future changing the present to alter their own era.

•Changing personal history—getting the girl, opting for career over marriage, etc.

•Time police.

•Love Across Time

•Family-themed stories (getting to know your parent when they were your age, for instance).

•Parallel world stuff.

And then there’s the appendix, which has all the little movies that don’t qualify for in-depth treatment (not that anything is really in-depth, but some have more than others). Would it give more depth if I clumped movies from the appendix in as short notes in the relevant subchapter (putting The 25th Reich in with other WW II History Altered films, for instance)? What about putting parallel-world love stories in the love story chapter? Which will be more satisfying and smooth for the reader.

First-world writer problems, obviously. I’m confident I’ll get it all figured out by deadline.


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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel, Screen Enemies of the American Way, TV

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