Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The problem with time

This week I got caught up in something I was determined not to get caught up in - World building. As much as I think it is important to have an idea of your world and how it all fits together i.e what your races believe in, how the currency works, is the sky blue and the grass green etc, I found that many authors on the various forums I visit get far too bogged down in creating their world rather than writing about it.

There was one member on a forum that stated they had spent 3 years realising their world and still didn't feel ready to begin writing. This to me was just an excuse. They were lying to themselves that they were working on their novel rather than actually working on their novel. I couldn't help but think that by the time that this person felt "ready" to start writing, they would be bored of the whole thing.

Personally, like I have previously said when talking about your plot, I find that if I have an idea of the world my characters inhabit then that is good enough to begin with. The fun comes in exploring your world with the characters.

However, that being said, one of the obstacles I have been experiencing is writing about time. My world is set roughly in a medieval style era. They obviously did not have watches in those days and I was getting fed up with using phrases such as "Noon, dusk, early morning" etc. I also wanted to talk about months, years etc. The last thing I wanted was for the reader to suddenly think, "that is stupid, how could they have told the time back then" (even though it was another world).

I therefore spent quite a lot of time doing some research on the subject. I learnt all about how time was told using: sundials, water clocks, candles etc etc. I surfed websites, visited forums posing questions and even went to the library for inspiration. How was I ever going to work this into the novel without boring the ready with some heavy explanation?

Do you know what I learnt? IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER. The reader is not stupid, they don't need everything explained for them. I can talk about days, weeks, months etc, it is my world for crying out loud. I created it. Calendars were around in Ancient times anyway. I did a degree in it for God's sake!!

In fact, by just thinking about my world for 5minutes I devised a really cool idea about the calendar people would use. It is not complicated, it is not a million miles away (oh my God can I say miles!!) from the Gregorian calendar we use now. I like it. It makes perfect sense for my novel and the reader can sure as hell follow it - if I choose to mention it at all that is.

Bottom line, as long as I don't talk about minutes etc I'll be o.k. (although "moments" is used as a substitute quite a lot at the minute).

Simple motto: Writing is good, getting side tracked is bad. The editing stage is where you pick up any glaring errors.

As a result of this revelation I have rattled off another 2,500 words in two days.

Keep the gloom away.

Rob