The topic for our October monthly meeting was understanding and manipulating time to strengthen your novel. Meredith Davis showed us how time can be used like scaffolding for your story, giving organization and purpose to your narrative.
One way to use time is by time markers. These are moments in your book that give the reader a reference to time. They can be specific with a date, or just a brief comment about it being the morning or the next day.
Scene placement is also important. Meredith gave the analogy of being a tourist on a bus. Sometimes the bus stops and you get out in order to take in the scenery, other times you stay on the bus and watch the scenery go by. Scenes are the same way. Sometimes you need to stop at a certain story point and give your reader all the details, but other times you only need to give them a brief description to get them to the next stop in the narrative.
Backstory is also a way you can use time to manipulate your story, so look for places in your novel that correspond to the backstory you need to tell. Meredith suggests you sprinkle it in and leave a little mystery for your reader instead of clumping it all in one place.
These are just a few of the wonderful tips Meredith taught us, and they work for picture books as well as novels.