And this is why I never finish anything…
Just throwing a warning up here that this post is long and goes into a bit of detail of my rambling mind. Trudge carefully past this point.
Today I went to sit down and come up with character sketches for the book I want to write. I thought, “Alright, I won’t over complicate things, I’ll just get down what I already know about each character and not over-worry about being thorough.” I got as far as writing my main character’s name before I was distracted.
The culprit was a seemingly simple piece of information: birth date/place. Now my thoughts turned to the date, “This is a fantasy world, his birthday wouldn’t be in January or something.” So I set off to create a quick list of month and weekday names for my story, thinking it’d take me a few minutes to come up with names for everything. That spiraled out of control quickly.
Inspired by the way the dates worked in one of my favorite games, I took the real world week and expanded that into my story’s year. Each day of the week would be a month in my story, making one year seven months long, and each month would be 24 days long, just like how there’s 24 hours in a real-life day.
Creatively, this worked well, and I came up with the names of my story’s seven months. I briefly faced the dilemma of if I wanted my story world’s weeks to be 6 or 8 days long since my months all had 24 days, but I settled with 8 and created the names for the 8 days of the week as well.
“Good” I thought. “I wonder how many days are in my story’s year?” Some math gave me 168, which according to more calculations was about half the time of a real-year. At first I thought I’d ignore the difference—this is a fantasy I’m writing, after all—but more and more concerns popped into my head. If I said my main character was 19 years old, he’d be about half of that in real-years. Did I counter this by having the people of my story age faster, or did I just double his years and explain the difference at some point? Somehow I thought bringing up that he was 38 story-years old wasn’t a good idea; surely his age would be mentioned before the explanation of the calendar, and by the time the system was brought up, people would have warped their imaginings of him to be our equivalent of a 38 year old rather than a 19 year old.
I didn’t like the thought of changing my story’s calendar system because I liked how nicely it equated to something in the real-world, but since I found the thought of rapidly aging characters slightly disturbing I knew I had to change it.
I added significantly more months to my story’s year (I don’t want to be specific on the off chance someone reading this and is too lazy to come up with their own fantasy calendar), and now the difference between my character’s age between real-years and story-years was a few months, rather than about half the years.
Now if I were sane, this would’ve been enough. It would’ve been enough to just continue and use my made up months and days to start describing the birth dates of my characters. But a seed was planted in my mind, and it quickly grew out of control so I had to answer the question it posed: how do the days of a real-year compare to those of a story-year? Essentially I wanted to be able to say, “Ah, my birthday would be such-and-such date in my story calendar.”
And that’s when the complicated calculations came in.
Now while this was the majority of my time spent, I’ll spend the least amount of time describing this. Imagine pulling up a spreadsheet and basically learning how to use Excel to compare days 1-365 to the number of days in my story-year. This gave me numbers I then had to go through and match up to the days in my story-year, as my story-year had less days in it than a real-year. Some story-days were actually two real-days, and I had to go through the whole list of 365 numbers to see which days these were.
I can proudly say I finished my spreadsheet, and I can tell you what any date of a non-leap year would be in my story (I have a few reasons I didn’t do a leap-year, but who cares? I’ll be surprised if anyone reads this to begin with). It’s twenty after two AM and I finished no character sketches today, but I did accomplish making a story calendar and writing my first Tumblr post in a while. That must count for something, right?