I have recently been going through my second book and making sure that all of the descriptions match the passage of time correctly. The reason for this is because a while ago I added a few extra days to the timeline of the first book. So – if it is changed earlier on, everything else that follows must line up to correctly match. Otherwise there will be issues.
As the title states, don’t say that it’s a dog, and then get it to meow whenever it speaks. And although that really has nothing to do with timelines and the passage of days and nights, I think everyone can get the idea of what I’m saying.
I think it’s important to make sure the passage of time is lined up correctly, especially if you are describing the scenery or particular elements of that day (or night).
Say an event happens during the moon’s first quarter (you’ve described the particular month, or day of the week, or perhaps even moon itself). The picture painted is clear – the readers are now aware that the moon is at its first quarter. But then, a week later, another significant scene takes place at night, and you go and throw in the fact that the sky is pitch black, void of the moon’s light because it is new.
Erm … problem there, right? A huge chunk of time just vanished into some incomprehensible vortex. Some readers may not notice the missing span of time – being too caught up in the actions of the scene to really consider such a detail. Others, however, may notice it almost instantly, and thus be thrown out of the book’s reality, and into a limbo of confusion. The sense of realism is suddenly lost, and that part of the story loses its believability.
If you fail to accurately keep track of time from one event to another, you can really mess things up and throw the reader out of their previous immersion in the story.
So, to make sure such a thing is not an issue in my story, I actually have a calendar of the months (fulons) of a Valadilian year. By putting notes in the days that certain events occur, I am able to keep track of when things are happening, or going to happen, and thus I can put in an accurate description if I was to mention the time of day, the shape of the moon, or even the weather.
It’s a simple and very effective method – especially if your story is one that occurs over a vast distance, or an extended length of time.
Of course, depending on where your story takes place, it is important to stick to the “rules of that world”. As far as my story is concerned, there are only 28 nights in every month, and there are thirteen months in a year. The hours also differ from this world. We have 24 hours in a day – Valadae has 30. If your story takes place elsewhere from Earth (or a parallel Earth), then you have the freedom to extend or diminish the cycle of time however you wish. Or you may want to keep things simple and so stick to the cycle of time everyone is used to. The choice is up to you. But keep in mind, whatever you choose, you need to stick to those rules of time passage, and make sure the descriptions of the events of your story coincide with the right day, night, month and season.
Remember, don’t say it’s a dog and then write “meow”. I think that rule applies to all areas of story-telling.