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blog History for Fantasy Writers: Time Was

Discussion in 'Research' started by Black Dragon, Jan 5, 2020.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    skip.knox submitted a new blog post:

    History for Fantasy Writers: Time Was
    by E.L. Skip Knox

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    This is a two-part article on how time was perceived and measured in ancient and medieval Europe, in the age before mechanical clocks. In Part One I’ll talk about the larger units of time: days, months, years, and the like. In Part Two, it will be hours, minutes, and seconds.

    It is common for fantasy writers to make up their own calendars. Some merely rename the months and days of the week, while others derive a calendar from the specific astronomical and geophysical aspects of their world. I’m not here to talk you into or out of any of that. The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the wide variety with historical precedent, and to suggest some aspects that may go overlooked.

    I’ve mentioned the calendar. In addition to days, weeks, months and years, don’t forget the seasons. Each of these categories can provide rich ground for invention. Don’t forget the shorter periods, though: hours, minutes, seconds, or specific measurements such as a ship’s bells. To anticipate a central point: the exact measurement of time is a modern obsession. Before the ubiquity of mechanical clocks, people had very, er, flexible notions about time. OK, let’s start with years.

    Years
    Right away we are presented with numbers. Whether it is the Gregorian calendar or the Islamic, Judaic, Hindu, cultures have long measured the years as an unending (we hope!) procession marked by...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
     
  2. Love this post Skip and will look forward to the second installment.

    I've learned in my moves around the US there are various ways that locals poke fun at the seasons too. In Wisconsin, the like to say they have two seasons, winter and July. In the Dakotas, when it snows in winter, they might say, Oh, it's snowing? Must be warm! Here on the northwest coast we joke that, though we get 60 plus inches of rain every year, it mostly rains at night. And of course I grew up with April showers bring May flowers and March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. I love when writers create a little of that local reflection and humor that gives a reader a peek, if exaggerated or distorted, at their world's climates and/or seasons.
     
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  3. Pemry Janes

    Pemry Janes Sage

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    Finally got around to reading this, quite insightful. Wasn't aware that the Roman week had 8 days.
     
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