The Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester

My original intention was to write a simple story by an author in the distant future who finds two diaries locked together in an old box. One written by a James Urquhart from our time and the other by an Elizabeth Bicester, a Victorian lady of means. At first the finder believes they are some form of hoax for which the meaning is not clear. However, in the process of reading the story and analysis of the diary material the author is led to the conclusion that they were written by two lovers who had actually lived a hundred years apart and if that was true demonstrated that time travel was possible.

In order to put this in a novel I thought the simplest way was to just write extracts verbatim from each diary alternatively in chronological order. First James, then Elizabeth then James and so on. This I hoped would allow me to write from each other’s perspective. This was quite important because I was concerned that if I wrote from the point of view of just one of them I would not be able to get inside the mind of the other and understand and develop his or her character. That of course might just be a limitation on my abilities to write a story, but I certainly felt I could not write about Elizabeth unless I was Elizabeth.

However, I quickly discovered this not only put rigid constraints on the telling of the story but actually made it sound like I had just cut up two diaries in sections and pasted them together. (see Jane Austen’s Lady Susan for an example). It did not make a readable story

I then considered putting each person’s story as a separate chapter but I could see immediately that I was in danger of just repeating the story in alternate chapters. It wasn’t going to work.

Still not wanting to abandon either person I then tried a different tact. I decided to let them write the story from each other’s perspective but still keeping it in the form of alternate passages from each diary. By this method I was no longer the author of the novel but they were. So as the story progressed first one then the other took turn to tell the story and also where appropriate, or inappropriate, making comment about each other. This was much more fun as it allowed me to introduce banter and humour. This format also allowed me to introduce conversations into the text which is of course an essential part of any novel.
Thus I was able to re-establish the flow of the story and keep the concept of the diaries. But more importantly it gave me the freedom to write ‘in character”. I hope that makes sense.

Some info on the places and people I used can also be found on this page here

My books and eBooks on The Time Travel Diaries of James Urquhart and Elizabeth Bicester are available on Amazon and Kindle.


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