Type 2: Save Someone
The second type of time travel novel is what I call “save someone.” As implied by the title, these novels focus on saving a character. Like most time travels, this type is very plot driven. Often the beginning is slow (a trait common to most time travel) as the protagonist discovers what has happened and who he must save. From there the story gains momentum as the protagonist discovers his goal and works toward achieving it. Whether the character in need of rescuing is from the past or the present will also have some important implications for the story structure.
When the character to be saved in the past is actually from the past, the novel usually starts out with an accidental journey. The protagonist is dragged into the past unexpectedly and usually unwillingly. The beginning lacks focus until the protagonist discovers what is happening. The pace then quickens and builds to a dramatic end where the character is rescued from his fate in the nick of time. In On Etruscan Time, by Tracey Barrett, Hector spends the first half of the novel time traveling between the past and present with no clue as to why he’s been pulled back in time. After he learns that he needs to save a young boy from his execution, the frequency of his visits increases, and the stakes are raised as times starts to run out. One trait common to this version is that the present day is changed. Altering just one event from the past, even a small one, affects the present, but typically only the protagonist realizes the change has happened.
While the protagonist is usually vaulted back in time with no warning to rescue a character from the past, he often makes the trip intentionally when trying to save a character from the present. Usually the protagonist realizes someone is missing and actively searches for them from the beginning. While the protagonist knows he needs to save someone he generally doesn’t know how to go about it at first. In The Book of Time, by Guillaume Prevost, Sam realizes his father has disappeared, but it takes two trips to the past before he begins to understand how to manipulate his time travel to get to his father. There is generally little to no change in the present in this case, probably because the past is used as a setting only and historic events and people are unchanged by the protagonist’s journey.
The time period will determine the plot, but the setting in these novels can be anywhere. Recent past or ancient history, it doesn’t matter, you can save someone in any time period. If the author wants the story to take place in Pharaohs Egypt, Medieval France or 1800s Wild West then all he has to do is create a plot that works for that time period. Because I wanted to write about seven completely different time periods, most of the books in my Abigail Wenworth Series fall into this type. This is probably the most adaptable of all types of time travel and therefore one of the most common.
Don’t miss any of the Time Travel Mini Series!
Type 1: Walk in my Shoes