Michaeline: We aren’t here forever, so for goodness’ sake, set some deadlines

cherry tree on left, old pine on right, frames a cemetery with a snowy mountain in the background

“Every year, the cherry blooms, the flowers scatter.” — Matsuo Basho
Some deadlines cannot be extended. (photo by Michaeline Duskova, May 2, 2015: a cemetery in Shimizu) 年々や桜を肥やす花の塵

As you can see from my photo, today is the peak of cherry blossom season in my area. Cherries, in Japanese culture, are a symbol of intransience of life – they bloom, only to fall after a short time of beauty. What a glorious, yet gloomy thought. Here today, gone tomorrow . . . .

While glumly contemplating the impermanence of it all, it suddenly reminded me of one of my favorite devices for increasing tension in a story: a time lock. I’m a natural-born procrastinator (and maybe most of us are), and my first drafts show it. My characters fluff around the book, looking for a plot, and reasons. But if I can get a time lock into place, suddenly, my characters don’t have time to goof off while drinking tea and eating cake under the cherry blossoms. They’ve got to get up and do something. Continue reading