Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts

A bit of random housekeeping first:  both my Tuesdays and Thursdays are shaping up to be insane with coursework in the Winter quarter (if I hadn't done four on-ground courses for the end of my pastry degree, I'd be petrified), so I think my weekly post is going to shift to Wednesday.  To appease my addiction to alliteration, I will likely entitle them Wednesday Wanderings.

If you would like to help me, or someone else you know, overcome the terrible disease that is compulsive alliteration, donations are always welcome.  Please send cash.

Yes, I did have a topic in mind, not just a shameless grab for money, and it's appropriate to the season.  I've been thinking about holidays in fantasy worlds.  Most writers, I think, have some kind of seasonal festivals - it's something that's been ingrained into our consciousness, and it has a long, historical tradition.  Sometimes, though, it's intriguing to go beyond the universal and consider how specific beliefs may have developed into customs or other holidays.

I haven't done as much of this as I would like - another thing that goes on my to-do list! - but my most recent story with Abyss and Apex, Dancing Day, does explore this concept.  While it is loosely themed around Christmas, the activities of the Dancing Day are very different and have magical consequences.  Indeed, that's an unique opportunity we have in fantasy.  When you celebrate the gods ... do they acknowledge?  What about holidays and observations that mark supernatural events?

This also brings me to fantasy calendars.  This is something that I always devote some attention to, even if the reader doesn't see more than a glimpse of it.  It's tricky to build a fantasy calendar, too ... do you take the easy route and simply rename our months and days?  That's already 19 potential new fantasy words your reader has to deal with.  Do you rearrange our 365 days into a different shape?  There's no reason that a fantasy year has to have 365 days, but to my mind, you want it close.  If your fantasy year is 400 days, for instance, your character who is 25 by their reckoning is actually 27 by ours (yes, I did the math) ...

To me, coming up with a scheme that isn't recognizably based in our Earth but it is still easy to follow is a work of art.  I'm not sure if I've accomplished this yet.  The calendar I use in Unnatural Causes is a bit peculiar in that the rest-day - Pinnacle - is smack-dab in the center of their week.  The days on either side count up or down to it, as the case may be.  I've made sure that all my references to what day it is are supported with clarifying statements.  Hopefully, it won't drive people nuts!

So as the year winds down ... writers, how do your characters celebrate?

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