Time Travel Tropes

Ever wondered how a time travel author writes a trope satisfying novel and deals with those pesky time travel paradoxes? Author Roy Huff explains!

Time travel tropes by Roy Huff

I hope it’s clear that time2timetravel is all about time and time travel, but what’s not so clear is whether time travel is possible. There’s a lot of research into it, and an immense amount of discussion, but one thing is for sure: time travel is real enough in the sense that it exists in the imagination – and therefore work – of many authors who use time travel in one form or another across many disciplines.

Whether someone travels across time to find the love of their life, or they find themselves in another era with another culture or viewpoint, or that we enter into the realm of the nuts and bolts of just how characters can time travel anyway, authors have found a multitude of ways and settings to bring time travel to us and bring it, in a sense, closer to reality.

And this is why I’m always very happy to read time travel novels, and especially to be in contact with authors who charge themselves with this delivery of time travel technology. In the few author interviews I’ve done here and on Time Travel Nexus I’ve been been very lucky to have had behind the scenes glimpses of what it’s like to craft a time travel novel.

Author Roy Huff
Author Roy Huff

Personally, one feature which sets time travel apart from many other interesting areas in science fiction are the time travel paradoxes, and indeed, these can pose many problems for time travel authors.

So I’m really excited to present this article by author Roy Huff (pictured left) who shares his views on just how to deal with those pesky time travel paradoxes when using time travel in a fiction novel.

Time Travel Tropes

(by Roy Huff)

How to handle the paradox? A great question. A trope satisfying yet unique perspective on time travel doesn’t have to vex science fiction writers (or readers). I love all aspects of time travel, and I do enjoy a good paradox now and again, but I’ve come up with a way to work completely around it.

How to handle the paradox?

Most people might think time travel is impossible because of the paradox. And while I’ve seen certain books, like Split Second, allow for limited paradoxes, I don’t think they exist. I think it’s the trope itself that keeps authors including them in stories.

My two time travel projects are a book and a time travel blog. The book avoids the paradox by co-opting M-theory and the concept of the branching universe. I won’t go too in-depth with my plot other than to say it’s a unique perspective, which I haven’t seen done before. I combine several tropes I know readers are dying to read in a way that loosely follows science.

My Time Travel Diaries project is completely different. I write a daily journal from the perspective of Bobbie Raiser, a researcher from the near future who meets himself and has to journey back to the past.

It’s an interesting pantser style project that hasn’t been fully fleshed out, and I’m writing as I go. I’ll most likely introduce the possibility of a paradox but may co-opt the branching universe theory as well. I’ll have to see where the story takes me.

I don’t think it’s necessary to always explicitly state the mechanism for time travel or even address the idea of the paradox, but there are certain theories that could be conducive to one, such as retrocausality. While I’ll employ M-theory and exotic wormholes to allow for splitting timelines, fiction allows me to play God. And I have to admit, I have fun doing it.

As for the business of writing, I’ve struggled with transforming my method from marathon writer to daily writer. That’s born out of necessity as a teacher. It’s easy to pound out fourteen-hour forty-page days during my long vacations, but life gets in the way if you’re not inspired or have other pressing concerns. For that reason, I’ve added forty-minute writing sprints in the morning before work that let’s me put down around 1,000 words.

I am more of a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants) than a plotter, but I’m trying to be more deliberate in my plotting. The reason is I want to write faster. I currently pen around six pages an hour on average, but that’s when I have somewhere to go. I don’t need too much detail, but a basic outline is helpful. The other reason is that I want to give the reader what they want and work on character development.

I’ve recently taken up several personal habits to force myself to write daily and do other tasks earlier in the day. I’ve built a routine and anchored my habits around those routines so the writing, marketing, and other necessary tasks are completed instinctively.

I recommend Mini Habits by Stephen Guise and the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I’ve also given up radio during my commute in favor of podcasts (I love EOFire by John Lee Dumas) and audiobooks. I’ve developed a daily fiction reading habit, and I read articles and books on improving my writing every single day.

Next, I plan on increasing my involvement in science fiction and writer forums to interact more with readers and fellow lovers of science fiction and fantasy.

To aspiring writers, I recommend any of Chris Fox’s books like 5,000 Words Per Hour and Write to Market. I would also suggest reaching out to other authors in your niche with specific questions and advice on how to become a better writer, marketer, and for basic mentoring.

Thank you for having me, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Time Travel Diaries. I’m most active on Twitter (@evervillefans) but you can also find me on Goodreads and Facebook. For those interested, I’m offering an exclusive gift, the first five journal entries to the Time Travel Diaries as well as a $250 Amazon Gift card promotion on my website.

Roy Huff, MS, MAEd

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Summary
Time Travel Tropes
Article Name
Time Travel Tropes
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Ever wondered how a time travel author writes a trope satisfying novel and deals with those pesky time travel paradoxes? Author Roy Huff explains!
Author

Author: Paul Wandason

I love astronomy and science fiction, but I love my family more. So I love time travel too!

2 thoughts on “Time Travel Tropes”

  1. Terrific article – thanks!

    I actually addressed the paradox in my most recent historical sci-fi novella, Quantum Lace (http://QuantumLace.com). Here is the relevant snippet:

    “Anyway, like I was saying,” he continued as he brought his attention back to the table, again lowering his voice slightly. “I’ve even been able to take care of the paradox that H.G. Wells encounters in his book, ‘The Time Machine’,” Markus continued. … “Anyway, the grandfather paradox that you can’t change the past by going back and killing your grandfather before your father was born. You see, it’s not really a paradox at all because nothing you do changes that past – the one where you needed to be born in order to exist to be having this experience in the first place.” Bridgit gave him a blank stare.

    “The same applies for the chronology tenet Wells put forward,” Markus explained, “where you cannot go back in time and change something that would mean you now don’t go back in time in the first place. They are all holograms of an infinite number of pasts, all different universes, different realities, if you will. You cannot go back in time in this reality,” he said as he tapped the table, “but you can explore every other universe – every other decision and alternative where your consciousness hasn’t yet been.”

    Bridgit’s head was swimming but not seeing any means of retreat from the situation, and despite her discomfort, actually being quite captivated by the entire fantastical discourse, she encouraged Markus to continue.

    “But, like I said,” elaborated Markus, “time travel only applies prior to collapsing the wave function, prior to taking action, when all other alternatives are only potentialities – or in other words, once you have made a decision and taken action, and your consciousness has moved forward into that new, branched-off universe, you cannot travel back prior to that point in that universe, but you can travel back in an alternate one.”

    Markus stopped and looked at Bridgit for a signal of how to proceed, or even whether to proceed.

    “So, if you believe all this to be true…” Bridgit’s question was cut off.

    “The question is: Are we sure what we know now is everything there is to know – or even if what we think of as fact, are we sure that we are correct? Or, is it possible there may be things that are in fact real that we are presently ignorant of?” replied Markus, heading off any suggestion that he may be imagining the whole thing.

    ~~~

    Thank you for continuing to provide such a cool blog..!

  2. I featured paradoxes in my short story ‘Titanic Time’. The theme was two time travellers went back in time to prevent a third time traveller from preventing the Titanic disaster. It was enough to tell the third traveller that one of the first two, myself in the story, was the grandson of a man who was a prisoner of war in WW1. Had the Titanic not sunk then influential passengers on it would have opposed the entry of the US to the war. This would have prolonged it and the time travellers grandfather would have died. 1500 died in the disaster but millions lived as a result. The third time traveller realised he as in the wrong reality and didn’t prevent the disaster. BTW there was a ‘John Chapman’ listed as a casualty in the disaster.

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