I know it's been awhile. I've been going to this AMAZING teen writers workshop over the past two weeks so I have not found much time for writing on my poor little blog. I'll do a blog post on that after Friday.
Anyway, I thought I would briefly share how I invented a fantasy calendar for a new story I am in the process of outlining.
This story is a crossover fantasy, which is when you have the real world and a fantasy world "meet." Like the Chronicles of Narnia.
I needed to invent a calendar because I needed to work out how the two different worlds worked together time-wise. The two worlds tick along at the same speed (so eighteen years on Earth would be eighteen years in Natura (me tentatively named world)), but Natura has different names and customs when it comes to dates, months, years, etc.
A good place to start would be knowing the history of a real calendar. Now, I don't know much, but I know enough to get me started. There's a lot of history packed into our one little calendar. For instance, the months July and August did not exist until after the reigns of Julius Caesar and Octavius, who decided to name months after themselves. I also know that Benjamin Franklin was the first one to propose a daylight saving time, so that didn't exist until after the seventeen hundreds. I know that B.C. stands for "Before Christ" so all dates before then went from roughly 5,000 B.C.- 1 B.C. A.D. stands for Anno Domini, "In the Year of our Lord" so it goes up from when Jesus was born. Though now it is commonly agreed that Jesus was born in 3 B.C. not 1 B.C. as was originally thought.
So you see? Look how much history I got out of there. And that's just years and months! If we get into day names, we get some Norse mythology in there. Sunday was originally called by the Old English Sunnandæg "Day of the Sun" and Monday was called Mōnandæg which is "Day of the Moon." Tuesday was "Tyr's Day" named after the Norse god of War. Wednesday was "Wodan/Odin's Day" named after the Norse head god. Thursday-Thor's Day, Friday- Frigga/Freya's day, etc.
And THAT is just the English calendar. We could go into the Mayan calendar, the Chinese calendar, the Native American calendar, and many many more. So there is plenty of material out there for you to gather ideas for creating fantasy calendars.
Since the one I am working on is a crossover fantasy, I wanted time and years to be as similar as possible. Whereas with 'Ember Flame' and 'Hail Frost', I never really invented a calendar or year chart or anything. I just didn't need to for the type of story it is.
Anyway, Natura has a 360 day year, and each day has 24 hours in it. They don't have a daylight savings time or anything because they are a very laid-back people and don't care much about having time match up with light. Natura has twelve months. Each month has three weeks and each week is exactly ten days.
Well, that was simple enough. But as I've discovered more about these people, I've noticed they can't STAND numbers and math and time restraints. (Wonder where they got THAT from....) So they do NOT name their years and days "numbers". Where we might say it's "Friday the 1st." Or we might say "I was born 9-8-1980" they won't.
Well that made things a bit confusing. But then I realized that the people of Natura love (surprise!) nature. They love the sky, and they love the world and they love color. They're a very elvish sort of people. So I needed to create a calendar that really emphasized this. But they are also extremely laid-back and not as prone to detail as we are, so their calendar needed some flaws too.
I'll start with the months. Their years begin in the equivalent to March for us. They pair all of their months into four sets depending on the season. There are three in each set. So then they take the color of the season for the set and pair it with a time in the sky to represent the different months in a season. Here is the complete twelve months for Natura and their (roughly) earth equivalent.
Green Night- March
Green Dawn- April
Green Eve- May
Yellow Night- June
Yellow Dawn- July
Yellow Eve- August
Orange Night- September
Orange Dawn- October
Orange Eve- November
Blue Night- December
Blue Dawn- January
Blue Eve- February
Pretty cool. But then I realized I needed a way for them to set dates on a weekly and daily basis. And I could not use numbers. So this is what I did.....
Three weeks in every month were originally based after the lunar calendar, but it soon got off balance over time because they weren't completely accurate, so the weeks are still labeled wrong.
The first week of every month is "Gray" week, which originally represented the time when the moon was changing (crescent-half).
The second week of every month is called "White" week, which originally represented the time when the moon was full.
And the third week of every month is called "Black" week which was when there was a new moon.
Obviously, you can see this did not take long to get off track. First, they did not have a second "Gray" week for when the moon was changing from full to new. (Which is why we have four weeks, by the way) Also, moons don't change in exactly ten days. But like I said, they are laid-back, so they never bothered changing it or making it more accurate.
The days of the week loosely follow the micro-evolution of a flower.
So if you were to set a date on the fifth day of the week in the second week of summer, you would say "White Sprout, Yellow Night."
But oh, what if you need to name a year?
This stumped me for a bit. I couldn't find anything in the English calendar that inspired me. However, that was not the case for the Chinese calendar....
They have a rotation of twelve years and each year has it's own special animal to represent it. (Year of the Dragon, Year of the Ox, Year of the Tiger, etc.)
So I decided to do the same thing. I gave them a rotation of ten years though, since they already seem to be on a "ten" thing, what with the days and all. Here are their ten years with an earth equivalent next to it.
So that works out well, but THEN I wondered what would happen if they needed to refer to a year long before their current decade.
I decided that Natura was ruled by one King. On the first day of every year, the King chooses a color or shade to name the decade. One of the early King's might have named the decade "Blue" so when you needed to refer to a specific year in that specific decade, you might say "Blue Flower" or "Blue Magic."
So there, I had completed my calendar. It's very loose and rather vague, but it's a good thing the people of Natura don't care. In fact, they like it that way.
Building a calendar is kind of time-consuming, but it can be a lot of fun too. It can also help you further build your world! For example...
After finishing the calendar, I started moving on to how names work in this world. And then an idea hit me. The King gets to choose the color, yes. But something told me that the nobility of Natura had more to do with the calendar. I decided that all children of noble birth had to be given names based off of the year they were born in.
The heroine of my novel is the daughter of a noble. She was born in the Pale Sky year, so she had to have a name of something in the sky. Her name is Star. She has an older sister named Lavender. Whereas everyone else in Natura who is not of noble birth has to have a common name. The hero is a ferry-man named Cydian.
So all in all, I think creating a fantasy calendar is worthwhile. It really adds a whole dimension to a story. This blog post might have been boring to everyone but me (and okay, maybe it was was bit too technical), but I certainly hope it helped! :)
P.S. Just watched 'Doomsday' in Doctor Who. I watched it with my two sisters. All three of us were full-out sobbing by the end of it. I hate the Doctor Who writers. Hate, hate, hate em.
P.P.S. My brother roped me into watching Batman Begins with him. Epic! Awesome! Watching The Dark Knight tonight. Lookin' forward to it!
P.P.P.S. FINALLY watched Indiana Jones! Loved em so much!