Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

That’s true in the Parallel Universe, too, where time expands and contracts for characters experiencing fictional life, as well as for their author (as narrator), and for readers (as observers). Writers who are pantsers don’t do much, if any, planning, plotting, or outlining when writing, but keeping an eye on the passage of time is important no matter how much or little of it elapses during the story.

For a historical novel set sometime on Earth, in addition to coordinating the plot with important dates, a writer may need to know the phases of the moon, and a calendar will be important for determining the impact of the weather on fictional events as well as the historical ones. Where in time do you need to go? 1066? 1776? 1871? 1914-1918? 1939-1945? A perpetual calendar is the place to start.

The website timeanddate.com offers one that can be customized and printed (PDF). Once you have the information provided by a perpetual calendar, it’s easy to construct your story’s fictional calendar, and then use it to verify continuity when you’re editing.

Time is important no matter what the genre, so if your story involves other-world-building, you’ll need to come up with a method of reckoning based on your planet’s periods of rotation and revolution. How much light, by how many suns, constitutes daytime? Is there more than one moon to illuminate the night? Do the inhabitants of your world use constellations to reckon longer periods of time? Do they use clocks and calendars driven by radioactive decay?

Yes, indeed, time flies, but you can put away your stopwatch, because unless you’re writing a story like The Poor Little Rich Girl (which, among other more ghastly things, explores bizarre alternative meanings for common idiomatic expressions), you probably don’t need it for racing insects.

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

  1. Timeanddate.com is ridiculously useful! It can be really helpful when you’re trying to iron out the chronology of the subject you’re writing about. It can also help in little ways too: in my recent novel (Meet the Lidwells, about a family rock band in the 90s) I had to plan out the band’s discography so I made sure they dropped on Tuesdays (which was the industry norm from about ’88 onward) and that they weren’t too close together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your visit and comment!

    Now, I, as a reader, wouldn’t know it if you had got that detail wrong, but there are probably others out there who would know it, and their finding a technical error like that could destroy their suspension of disbelief.

    When writing fiction, we don’t have to include every single infinitesimal detail that our research turns up. We just have to know which ones are the important ones. By these do our stories stand or fall.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the link, Christine. 🙂 I use excel to keep track of dates and moon phases (would you believe). Especially in worlds where moonlight is relied on for vision at night. I’ve found that keeping track of time is particularly important when things are happening in a couple different places with different characters. It’s easy to get messed up, especially when travel time is needed to get from place to place. I’m definitely checking this out. Much appreciated. 🙂

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