This past weekend was a long weekend for many people. Long weekends are great, but it is very easy to lose track of what day it is. Friday feels like Saturday. Saturday feels like Sunday. Then Sunday comes and it's Sunday again. It's all very confusing.
Every writer has to keep track of the passage of time in their story. Sometimes a plot can take place over years or decades, sometimes the entire plot unfolds in a few days or even a few hours.
The writer's task is to make it believable.
Since I write mysteries, my timeline is usually quite short. Although in real life, murder mysteries aren't usually solved overnight, in fiction, the mystery has to be concluded in a very short span of time. No reader wants to wade through pages of where nothing much happens. It's the writer's task to make sure clues appear and suspects clear or incriminate themselves at a dizzying pace.
Some writers take advantage of this necessarily short timeline and use it ramp up the suspense. They start each chapter with a time so the reader is aware of the minutes ticking away. Other writers make time vague and although readers are aware time is passing, it's very much in the background.
I tend to do fall into the latter camp, and I must confess it comes with pitfalls. When you're concentrating on the plot it can be quite easy to lose track of time. I usually discover I've written one day that has three lunchtimes or another day with no morning but five teatimes.
Thank heavens, we don't submit our first drafts!
If you're a writer, how much attention do you pay to the passing of time? If you're a reader, do you pay attention? Or, are you more interested in the unfolding of the plot and the uncovering of the characters?