Upgrade your Brain

Did you watch the Amazon Prime 8-part series based on Stephen Kings time travel novel 22-11-63? As this blog is also dealing with the time travel novel I’m writing (current WIP title is “Causality Spiral”), I wanted to show you 8 anti-patterns that I’m happy not to replicate in my time travel plot.

1. Stupid time travellers

You have a tunnel that lets you go back in time and you can see the changes when you come back, and all your changes are reset when you go again. Say you want to save JFK. Kill Oswalt, if it doesn’t fix it, go once more so he can live again.

2. Timetravellers motivated for a random quest

Say you can travel in time to a fixed datetime that’s three years away from the assassination of JFK. It’s the next best thing after killing hitler, right? But you’ve lived now 54 years in a world where JFK is dead, so why risk everything to change this? Not even thinking about butterfly effect or disastrous paradoxes.

3. Have a conflicting model of spacetime

So you can’t change things, but you can change things? So the past is trying to stop you with randomness, but sometimes it wants to kill you if you change one life, sometimes it stops you from gaining important information and sometimes it doesn’t stop you when you spy on the most important information for massive change for years?

4. Shove random brutal people in the time travellers way

Yes, you’re Stephen King, but that doesn’t make it plausible that this guy you’re trying to stop is a brutal psycho (instead of having believable reasons for a murder) and that your random changed past girlfriend has a random sadistic murderer as a jealous ex – just to spice up the tension and the horror. Might be good to keep everyone watching, but what are the odds of actually randomly being confronted with random sickos?

5. Other time travellers with no use to the plot

Put in some random other time traveller who’s randomly there when you show up to only show you later that time traveling can’t fix stuff, while in the end it DID fix it? JFK survived, no Vietnam war happened? You saved one guys family, okay while loosing your love. Okay, it sucks that everything else got worse in the end, but in theory you could go back and also change that, now that you know.

6. Let the time traveller randomly lose his memories

… only to let it come back some days before you need to plot to resume. Talk about complete randomness and plot credibility.

7. After returning to *now*, show *why* it didn’t go right

So there was a war because you saved JFK because of butterfly effect? Just because some other president appeared afterwards? We just had Trump not starting a war during a timespan of crisis, so a bit more explanation might make that more plausible.

8. Make the magical time portal work that way you said it does

Assume your portal is in a fixed place in some random room in a diner. Who built that diner without a) loosing lots of workers in spacetime? b) finding and monetising that portal, eg by winning the same profitable bet, buying lots of cheap gold and bringing it over?

9. Make time travel nonmagical or somehow explained

Magic is nice, but at least a hint of science would be nicer.

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