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Fictional Calendars

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Fictional Calendars

Postby nightlock » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:56 am

Fantasy stories, located on fictional worlds usually end up with fictional calendars. But how much of these calendars are we supposed to explain. This part due to commentary I've heard expressed on Game intro's with such fictional calendars. The problem being that giving any specific date in a fictional and thus unknown calendar that doesn't mean anything to the player (or in our case, reader) is superfluous. Personally I enjoy fictional calendars because it gives me the feeling the world is true and developed even if I don't really know anything about the worlds history.

For my own world I've developed a history and a calendar split in (currently) three great era's, each with it's own denomination in much the same way we have BC and AD. To me it feels quite natural to speak of an event that happened in the year 170 PDD or 6 AK. But it tells the reader nothing. Telling the reader what the abbreviations mean requires explaining history which quickly turns into an information dump I don't really need or want. Having characters mention it to each other offhandedly is simply not possible and is just an information dump in disguise. Opening the book with a short intro history lesson seems faulty because the entire book is supposed to be a history lesson already.

What do you guys think? How did you go about your fictional calendars and how much of it's history did you reveal?
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby Bmat » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:28 am

I've seen a newcomer to the area taught about the calendar- usually a couple sentences. Another idea is to have one of the characters think or speak about it- the child, for example, reminds his mother that the festival of Ingram is starting next week.
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby The Master » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:16 pm

If understanding the calendar is important to the story I too would suggest a festival or holiday event that can be used as the pretense for the necessary info dump.
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby nightlock » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:29 am

nightlock wrote: Having characters mention it to each other offhandedly is simply not possible and is just an information dump in disguise.


I should have been clearer on that one. The reason it's impossible, is because there...... are no characters. :shock: :smt119 :smt104 :sorry:


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However, I think I might take the timeline I already have, throw it in the free equivalent of photoshop and do something pretty to it and then toss that on one of the first pages, in much the same way maps are being stuck in every fantasy book that mentions travel of more than a single day's worth.
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby Alex F » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:31 pm

Yes its an interesting dilemma, Nightlock. Personally speaking within the context of my own work I use Earth dates at the moment because so many of the cultures in my world are a follow on from Earth and thus still think in Earth terms though they're no longer there. That's going to change though once I start using other cultures.

A timeline sounds good though, doesn't have to be too detailed, just enough to explain what you classify as the beginning of recorded time to be and then all the significant events that happen to cause your PDD and AK year designations.
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby Asp Zelazny » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:05 pm

Interesting dilemma, that ... being that there are no characters. But to progress with the story, there has to some sort of intelligence/mover of events or viewer of geologic occurences that have to mark time or the story has to remain in the eternal "now". (unless I am completely missing your concept). If none of those is in the development of what you are writing, then perhaps the reader doesn't need a calender or timeline, or can create it for themselves. The writer needs it, of course, to think about the what and how of things, but maybe the reader really doesn't?
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby nightlock » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:57 am

It's a history book. So yeah, readers might needs to know a bit about timelines :P
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Re: Fictional Calendars

Postby HMart » Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:00 pm

I tend to leave large chunks of my timelines empty, for future purposes, so the "calendar" is somewhat important to me in my current projects. It's built as a spider web that intersects and cuts off, periodically.

However, I never reveal a distinct calendar. I merely mention the passing of time and the length of moons' movement in vague terms that the people of the planet would utilize. It all unfolds over... time. heh
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