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Distance; Emotional and Time

writing tips

By Amethyst ChampagnePublished 3 years ago Updated 9 months ago 3 min read
Distance; Emotional and Time
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Hey, it’s me again, and for this post, I’ll be discussing the distance displayed in writing.

So, what do I mean by distance?

Well, there are two types of distance in writing, emotional and time, each represented separately. And now, I will explain them to you.

What is Emotional Distance?

Emotional distance refers to how close the narrator, reader, and character are to the events in the story. The closer it is, the more active the story’s voice will be.

Much like TV shows and movies, with how the scenes zoom in and out, emotional distance can be imagined as a camera coming in different shot lengths.

Here are examples of each:

Long shot: They hurried through the cold night.

Medium shot: They hurried through the night, squinting against the cold.

Close shot: As they hurried through the night, the cold bitter air nipped at their skin.

See how, unlike with the long or medium shot, the close shot made you feel what the character did. The description of the scene created a vivid picture and engaged your senses, which made it feel real.

That’s what I mean by emotional distance. Yes, the name is a little misleading, but you get the idea.

People are more likely to read anything that allows them to empathize with the characters rather than just being told what’s occurring.

Emotional Distance and POV

This might affect which POV type you end up using. First and second-person are, by default, more active in voice, whereas third-person can be either active or passive, depending on how you play it.

We all know the phrase, ‘show, don’t tell’, right?

Maybe you have it as a poster or on one of your Pinterest boards. It sounds easy, but I understand how difficult it is to put the phrase to work, especially if you can’t personally relate to the situation you’re writing about.

Luckily for us, there are a plethora of books that can assist you. You just got to know how and where to find them.

My personal favorite is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

It lists the emotions, physical traits, mental responses, behaviors, and so on associated with each, which is a lifesaver for new or more stoic writers. I found the book extremely helpful and significantly improved my writing.

On the other hand, sections of your story or the whole piece may be projected better through a more passive voice. But that’s your call; just trust your instinct.

What is Time Distance?

Now, time distance can be trickier to keep track of because, for the most part, if not stated otherwise, readers will view a story as happening recently. And that isn’t always the case.

With some stories, the events can happen within days, from beginning to end, while others take about a year over several books.

Depending on which tense you pick, that can affect how the audience perceives the time, but I would not worry about that one if I were you.

Past tense is universal, and present tense is growing in popularity, as I will discuss later.

Conveying the Time Progression in Your Story

However, you can clarify the amount of time passed in your story with more than one method.

Some authors will state when a significant amount of time has elapsed, either when there’s a scene break, when the chapter changes as a subheading, or when the character states it immediately.

Your characters can mention how much time has passed in their POVs, whether it’s precise. Other characters can say it to them through dialogue, too.

This is my method because I like keeping the voices in my stories as active as possible.

I also tend to keep how much the overall time has passed shorter in my books, primarily for my benefit, mind you.

I don’t want to screw up my timelines since I plan to have multiple story sets occurring simultaneously in my universe.

To Finish

Since there is no right way here, as long as you can keep track of the time in your story, feel free to run with whatever suits you and write.


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About the Creator

Amethyst Champagne

I create fiction, short stories, poetry, and more!

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