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Establishing the date in your story

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Captain Ink

I'm curious how others have established the date in their stories without it being too clunky, eg. "It was a dark & stormy night in 1706 when..." My story happens to take place in 1706 (coincidence!), it's third person and I would rather avoid a prologue. I was thinking of maybe having the date as the title for the first chapter (cheat!). I decided that the first chapter needs rewriting when I get round to the revision part and I'm thinking ahead about changing how the year is introduced. Any good examples I could look up? Cheers.
#1 - September 01, 2009, 12:17 PM

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I have place and date as a sort of dateline right at the start of chapter one--scroll down to where it says "First pages" here:
#2 - September 01, 2009, 12:52 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)


As I reader, I prefer the way Marissa does it. It's unobtrusive and gets the information across quickly.
#3 - September 01, 2009, 01:16 PM


I much prefer the date to be stated BEFORE the story gets moving. For instance, having the date just below where it says "Chapter One." It's how I do it in my books because I have never discovered a way to casually drop it into the narrative that didn't feel forced or clunky.
#4 - September 01, 2009, 01:47 PM

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Is it vital that readers know the exact year? If not, you might hint at it obliquely. For example, in Karen Cushman's THE MIDWIFE'S APPRENTICE, someone refers to the king as Longshanks. Readers who want to know can figure it out from there.
#5 - September 01, 2009, 06:37 PM

Captain Ink

Thanks for the replies. I think I'll drop it in at the beginning, like Marissa & R2SS. The date is sort of important, just to make the real-life characters I'm using fit. Cheers again.
#6 - September 02, 2009, 10:19 AM


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