Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

My Challenges as a Queer Female Time Traveller: 23,521 words

17 September 2017

Not only am I thrilled to have breached 20,000 words, but the pre-first draft of the first act is done!

So here I am, at 23,521 words!

23,521 words written.

That’s a little low for 1,000 words a day, though…?


This time last week, I had 18,000 words. I should be at 25,000 words. Well, this wasn’t a good week for word count.

  • On Monday, I worked my day job late to prepare a presentation at a technology user group in London.
  • On Tuesday, I was travelling and presenting in London. I didn’t get home until after midnight.
  • On Wednesday, my respiratory infection flared up and I couldn’t work.

…and I didn’t get back to regular writing until Thursday.

Pre-first draft? Zeroth draft?

I don’t want to say I’m working on the first draft.

All I’m doing is working through the outline – which is already broken out scene-by-scene – and adding enough detail to make sure the story hangs together. I’m also figuring out new scenes to add and which to remove, now that I’ve got a fuller idea of the whole thing in my head.

So, let’s call this my zeroth draft. That’s the term I like, and I’m going to stick with it!

So, the zeroth draft of the first act is done!

Yeah, baby!

Right now, the first act stands at around 16,000 words. It still needs a ton of crafting, but the story is there.

It sets up the world of the near future, where travel to the past is a somewhat-dull regulated industry. Humanity is recovering from an ecological scare, and – with a bit of sobriety and introspection – historians and anthropologists are tasked with figuring out who we are and what we need to do about ourselves.

Our heroes aren’t historians. Our heroes aren’t anthropologists. Our heroes have eschewed those cushy desk jobs to take the hard and dirty graft of being flung back in time to record the first-hand accounts of history, then report back for the rockstars to publish and get interviewed on all the top social channels.

We meet two buddies, Elsee and Vee, who work at the Isca Spacetime Relocation Carrier Facility. They’re professional, dependable, loyal… and that’s put to the test when one of them is promoted into participating in a global secret, and the other accidentally uncovers a conspiracy which… well, I’m saving that reveal for the second act.

But – I’ll tell you what – there are some very powerful people who need to keep that conspiracy going. Only for a couple more weeks, mind. After that, it won’t matter.

Anyway… that’s where I’m at.

Nailing some terminology and scientific “accuracy”

I’m trying not to get held up on nailing the terminology of the world, but now feels like the time to start solidifying some of the ideas.

For example, I’m avoiding the term “time travel”. For one, it’s bloody cliché. For two, let’s say you travelled backwards in time – say – a hundred years, but you didn’t move at all in distance. Consider the Earth spinning around its axis. Consider the Earth orbiting around the Solar System. Consider the Solar System arcing around the Milky Way galaxy. Consider how you’d even describe the journey of the Milky Way galaxy as it’s dragged through an ever-inflating Universe. Hell, consider how you’d define an absolute lack of motion inside a Universe where new space is created by which to inflate itself.

That’s a lot to consider.

So, I set up a few little rules for my new world:

  • It’s not “time travel”. It’s “spacetime relocation”.
  • You have to know exactly where and when you’re going.
  • The where is figured out by maths, supercomputers, and prediction models fed with historic measurements.
  • To avoid going down a path where SpaceX has dropped its rockets in favour of colonising Mars via spacetime relocation, I’ve decided that you can’t move in space and not in time. That would violate the fundamental law of the universe that disallows information travelling faster than the speed of causality.
  • To avoid going down a path where SpaceX just uses spacetime relocation to colonise Mars about 15 minutes into the future to work around the speed of causality, I’ve decided that there are natural harmonics – like the orbits of electrons in atoms – which make time travel relatively cheap over a certain duration, and increasingly expensive the more you deviate from that harmonic. This is subject to change in the story – as is all this science bullshit – but right now, the harmonic is around 96 years. Folks from September 2113 can visit August 2017 with reasonable funding. If you’re rich, you can afford some wriggle room on the months. If you need to be flexible on the years, then the energy requirements will cost big bucks. And if you want to go back to last week to stop a terrorist attack… well, unless you’ve got a few Dyson spheres fuelling your spacetime relocator, you’re out of luck.

And finally, the big one: how am I avoiding paradoxes? If you goes back and kill your grandfather before he makes your dad, the what happens? The short, boring answer is: nothing happens. Yep, you can kill your grandfather. Yep, he’ll really be dead. But nope, it won’t affect you – except, I would hope, on an emotional level.

Just like information cannot travel through space faster than the speed of causality – aka the speed of light – neither can information travel faster than the speed of time. So yes, your grandfather’s death has changed your past, but both you and the change are travelling at the speed of time. It’ll never catch up with you, so it’ll never affect you.

Anyway… none of this is super critical to the story. This ain’t hard sci-fi, and I don’t want anyone to get the impression that it is. I just wanted to plant a bit of this background throughout the first act so I can avoid the usual “Why don’t they just go back in time a day and try again?” question asked of every time-travel story.

Next week’s goal: just keep going

Like I said, the zeroth draft of the first act is done – but that’s only a quarter of the story. The second act is a full half, so I’ve got some distance to cover.

I’m going to keep aiming for 1,000 words per day, so fingers crossed for 30,000 words in my next update!