Stop! I have a calendar, and I am not afraid to use it!

There comes a time in every fantasy world where the hero must do battle.

Wait a minute –  exactly what time is that time, and how the heck do we know that the time has come?

In some stories we go with the standard Julian calendar that westerners are all familiar with.  That is easy enough:  on July 3rd Lord William will strap on his sword and ride through the warm summer day to kill a beast; or conversely he will pillage the village (if he is THAT sort of a hero).

However, in the world of Neveyah,  time is measured somewhat differently than in our world.  There they use a lunar calendar, which is thirteen months of 28 days each with an extra holy day at the end of the year that belongs to no month. That day is the day of the winter solstice. Every 4 years there is a double holy day, which is an excuse for a big party.

Now the reason that I know that little bit of information is because I made a description that was for my own reference when I began writing the  description of their world.  It doesn’t come out much in the story, but the references to the passage of time have continuity because I have a calendar and I am not afraid to use it.  I gave the days of the week traditional Norse God-type names, except for Restday which is pretty self-explanatory; and named the months so that they roughly correspond to the Astrological signs that they fall in.  Then I named the seasons winter, spring. summer,  and harvest.  Each season has 3 months. The thirteenth month I named Holy Month.  Neveyah is a world that is the battleground of the Gods, and so religion plays a huge role in their lives. Their calendar reflects that.

To write a believable story you must know what you are writing about.  This is most critical in writing fantasy.  We want to sustain the story, and keep the reader’s interest. The flow of the story must not be interrupted by jarring and erratic elements that detract from the conflict and tension.  So, while the calendar receives little attention in the actual story, I follow it carefully when planning the length of a journey.  Will they be riding in snow? Will they be slogging through the spring rains?

In agrarian cultures, pre-technological societies which most sword and sorcery fantasies are written about, knowledge of the weather is critical. If you plant your crops at the wrong time they will be flattened by the monsoons, or conversely they will be frozen. Old-school farmers know the lunar calendar and follow it; My grandfather had a copy of the Farmer’s Almanac that he referred to when planting and harvesting his crops. If I am not very careful to follow the calendar I will accidentally write contradictions into my story that a reader will spot  right away.

When I am reading a story, inconsistencies and contradictions are fatal flaws to my enjoyment; and no matter who the author is or how much I love them, I find myself setting the book aside and not finishing it because the distractions ruined it for me.  That is the last thing an author wants the reader to do, because the next thing readers do is discuss the fatal flaws amongst themselves, often forgetting to mention the parts that they liked.

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3 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, Literature, mythology, Romance, Swashbuckling, Uncategorized, writer, writing

3 responses to “Stop! I have a calendar, and I am not afraid to use it!

  1. Great blog! Very interesting concept!

    Like

  2. You have such great commonsense advice on here, for such a wonderful writer of fantasy.

    Like

  3. I love the idea of creating a calendar or timeline. It’s such a basic thing but I think many writers get caught up in the other plot elements of a story and lose hold of the basics

    Like

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