Science Fiction and Fantasy For Younger Readers - Part Two - History is a Thing of the Past

History is a thing of the past and there are over five thousand recorded years of it to serve as an inspiration for writers in many different genres. Both historical fiction and time travel adventures, either for children or adults, show no signs of waning in popularity, but to be plausible to the reader, even stories involving magic or imaginary technology have to be well grounded in reality. In The Alchemist's Portrait, during a school field trip to the art gallery at a local museum, Matthew journeys through the frame of a magical painting, which acts as a time portal, to Amsterdam in the year 1666. A straightforward idea maybe, but how does this doorway actually work? Although time travel may remain firmly in the realm of fiction, the conditions under which it occurs still have to appear believable. If readers consider your means of time travel to be utterly ridiculous, they will quickly be turned off the story altogether.
As a writer it is vital that you create a credible method, machine or device for your time traveler, and many so-called time travel stories often overlook this important aspect. Especially in relation to novels for younger readers, the main character goes back in time at the end of chapter one, has a series of adventures in the past, before the he or she returns safely home at the book's conclusion. While these types of stories are set in a distinct time period, they should perhaps be more accurately classified as historical fiction. In numerous classic time travel tales, the hero goes into the past or future only to discover that their machine or device has either malfunctioned, become broken or is stolen by the chief villains of the piece.
This leads to an adventure in which the main character is stranded in a far flung time period, and a story in which time travel itself, along with all its complexities, is the key element.
Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist's Portrait, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse and The Heretic's Tomb. He offers a wide variety of workshops, presentations and Author in Residence programs for schools and libraries around the world, covering such topics as where ideas come from, story structure, editing and revision, character development, time travel stories, history and research and more. He is also available for presentations, workshops and public speaking engagements with a wide range of adult audiences, offers creative services designed for writers, including editing, critiquing and manuscript evaluation and also freelance writing services, including website content and copywriting, for the business community. Details of school and library programs, plus online readings, excerpts from his books, reviews, and reader, student and teacher comments may be found at 

One Comment

  • December 24, 2011 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

    Great article! I agree, the time traveling must be viable. There have to be rules set up and not just pulling things out of the air.

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