Wibbly-Wobbly… (In Which I lament about Query-Writing and Explain Alternate Universes)

There’s a reason I’ve started with some good ol’ Blink – that quote is so famous it walks on its own feet.

Time; and the fictional use of it. Urg, my query has done nothing but trouble me this week. And that’s saying something, seeing as I just got out of a double (3 hours) exam about Virtues, businesses, and miracles, a whole lot of miracles… At least my intangible rabbit example didn’t fall to waste.


[Basically, AJ Ayer, via Hume’s Fork, says that there are three types of language: Analytic – eg. the redundancy or, my favourite, the tautology: “all bachelors are unmarried men.” Synthetic – true once verified: “it is sunny outside.” *looks through window* Yes, it is – for once! And nonsensical statement, such as poetry and (thus relevant) ethical language. Because there is no way to prove an intangible rabbit is in the room, it becomes a meaningless statement.]

ANYWAY. Main philosophy tangent over.

At the moment, I have half-and-half feelings about queries; ironically, the novel which is less complete (ie. not even fully edited round one yet) is the one whose query has intrigued critiquers more positively. The other one…ah *throws hands in air* It’s difficult to say.

The problem is sense. I know exactly what I mean, but that hardly dictates to my critiques what the plot is. Why, oh why, did I write a New Adult romance set in an alternate world featuring time-travel?? No wonder my contemporary murder mystery gets more encouragement!

The issue also comes under the ‘what is time?’ question that should be an entire category of mine. I am fascinated so much by the non-linearity of temporal sustainment that I could write posts and posts about my opinion.

And yet, that’s one of the reasons I have a novel: so that I don’t have to waste my time and yours going on about my opinions. I can simply craft them within the pages of a book.

But here’s where it gets complicated (for the at-a-blink readers): I don’t disagree with The Doctor – time is wibbly-wobbly, non-linear – but I take this a step further in my novel, with, for one thing, symbolism of life and time inter-connected, but the other, through the literal use of time being alive. It is an entity. And it, one could argue (because I’m not supposed to be writing from time’s perspective!), sees and understands what’s going on. At least, in the penultimate chapter, it acts in such a way that one could argue that it is aware of the various mistakes that have led to said penultimate chapter (gee, that is hard to explain without spoilers).

If I had my way, I’d make it more obvious that time is sentient, but, I have to sacrifice my way for the sake of a better novel.

And then there’s ‘time-streams’, and I up the complexity and the difficulty of making sense of my query! You see, when one sets a novel in an alternate universe, one has already, consciously or not, postulated the existence of different ‘streams’ or layers of time.

sand layers; a little like the colours in Zara's sand-timer necklace
sand layers; a little like the colours in Zara’s sand-timer necklace

These layers are bound to interact, even fleetingly. As I have said, through the genetic intuition of Peter, time is a fabric under the pressure of sandpaper. Everything gets worn away.

350px-Cardiff_Rift_(Doctor_Who)Actually, I’ll give you a tangible example of that. The Cardiff Rift. It has always existed (in the world of Doctor Who), but there are times when it flares up, breaks – when aggravated by, for instance, Blon Fel Fotch’s use of it to power her planned escape from Earth (Guess who’s been reading her Time-Traveller’s Almanac lately? 😉 )


So, that has been postulated – we are living in one universe, alongside another ‘stream’ of time containing, even those infinitesimally small, differences. It’s the universe by each choice idea. They exist almost literally like streams. If one utilises The Doctor’s apt metaphor, one sees a flowing ball of many time-streams, like the layers of the Earth’s own composition.

Now what? Well, if a rift is torn apart by an incident in one time-stream, the closest time-stream will, naturally, be effected. Using the same Earth-layer image, it may be like drilling down through the layers – except it’s disaster, not oil, that springs out. The time-streams may all be individual, but they are streams, after all; they have very thin borders, for time is a precious instrumental.

Here’s where my favourite part of Time as Living comes in. Time breeds; when it understands that fault and unnatural disruption has occurred it tries to correct itself back into the individual, flowing streams by having that time-of-would-could-have-beens – a different colour, as my characters wonder about – become prominent and search for the disruption. However, you have to release the element of the streams (which I have named ‘time-energy’) before they can correct the fault. After all, time doesn’t have arms. Come on, that would be ridiculous! 😛

And, if you don’t hurry…time goes into auto-fix and heals the rift by itself, faults or no. After all, it can’t let all the time-streams bleed into each other. Same as a fuse cuts off power before electrocution through human-earth-wire can occur.

In the end, I could set out the argument that the first three chapters of my novel not only never happen, they don’t even exist. But we won’t go there for now 😉

More pretty sand layers
More pretty sand layers

All in all, this makes for some complicated stuff that I can’t possibly pour into a query. The mere mention of time-streams and a frozen bubble of time is confusing! I have yet to fix a decision why time freezes at the incident when it’s brought into rapid-flux. Was there possibly a Doctor Who episode…? Possibly ‘Father’s Day’. *is happy to watch TV as research* I have an idea, back from the beginning of WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE (yeah, that’s the idea, hence the capitals), but that was very many moons ago, and I have to let it reemerge from my unconscious psyche.

Humph. And my problem is not fixed, so I lament.

I wanted a picture of rivers running side by side to illustrate my idea, but I found none I liked, though I’d advise checking out this site with loads of dazzling waterfall pictures, which somewhat illustrate what I mean about two time-streams existing simultaneously – unfortunately, they are all under copyright, so I can’t put my favourite here.

To finish, I’ll give a quote I have just found whilst clearing out my AS ethics folder. Weirdly, it reflects the meta-ethics essay I chose to write today, which itself focused on whether the word ‘good’ has meaning (and this in itself is the task of the writer to definite the known world of words!). Doubly weirdly, this marks the origin of Zara’s sister’s name:

“There is no good – all definitions are merely examples. What is Lametta?”

6 thoughts on “Wibbly-Wobbly… (In Which I lament about Query-Writing and Explain Alternate Universes)

  1. I can think of a few time-stream romances off the top of my head, David Gerrold’s “The Man Who Folded Himself” (and I am prepared to defend the concept of narcissistic romance), the rather poignant ending of the “Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time” video game (in order to save the love interest’s life the protagonist has to reverse the time stream to the point where she no longer remembers him) a similar ending to “The Butterfly Effect”, and “The Lake House” (guilty pleasure). Oh, and Harlan Ellison’s brilliant Star Trek episode “City On The Edge Of Forever.”

    I would definitely read a romance that played with the concept of time. I think that there is something inherently romantic about the whole concept of time travel. “What might have been…”

    1. That’s interesting, thanks for mentioning those books. I’ll definitely look them up. Even the titles sound intriguing! Speaking of Star Trek (I’ve not seen that episode – which series is it from?), have you seen the Voyager episode ‘Time and Again’? It’s one of my favourites. Maybe I shoudl watch it again for help with my query.

      I agree. But would you class it as sci-fi or fantasy??

      1. Which Star Trek series? There was more than one? Okay, I’m showing my age, I grew up on the Shatner/Nemoy Star Trek, and I never watched any of the others–they just didn’t grab me in the same way.

        As far as the sci-fi/fantasy split, I’ve always felt that’s a very arbitrary division, and one that I deliberately try to blur in my own work. I think the main difference is in the reaction of the characters. In fact, I may need to post on that topic soon.

        1. Haha, yes I’m showing my age, as I grew up with Voyager (literally: it started the year I was born), and whilst I’ve watched some of the other series, I never really went all the way back to TOS.

          It’s definitely a post that I would read; I think of fantasy as being more mystical creatures and such like, which is why I’d link a time-romance with sci-fi. However, I’ve had people say different. I can understand the it does seem a bit arbitrary; perhaps the true nature of the split is within subgenres, rather than the huge umbrellas that ‘sci fi’ and ‘fantasy’ are.

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