Time in Fiction

When coming up with a new world, one of the hardest things to come up with are some of the most basic measurements we have. Before, I re-blogged a post on Distance. Now, I want to talk about time.

What is time, other than a measurement for everything as it interacts and changes around us. The truth is, that as humans, we have one concept of time. 60 seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour. 24 hours in a day. 7 days in a week. Etc…

Regardless of how we measure time, something noticeable in all fictional works, is the similar time system to our own. 20 or 25 hour days. 5-10 day weeks. 10-15 months. Etc…

Why do we do that? In my own opinion, I believe it gives us a time structure we can better relate to. When you’re 15, it’s hard to sympathize with another 15 year-old when their year is 1000 days (or about 3 of ours).

So what does that mean for new races? Sure they live on a barely hospitable planet, but the year’s about the same length. So, they either have a planet traveling much faster, increasing natural forces on the planet, or, it moves slower for the planet to be closer to the center of the galaxy. A lot of planetary effects are built on the distance from the sun and other planets.

Also, in science fiction, the standard galactic year is almost always built around human standards as well. Creatures on other planets seem to just accept it and move on, despite their advanced statuses, but hey, what can we do? We’re only human after all, and I don’t see any extra-terrestrials reading my writing any time in the near future.

Thanks for hearing me out on… this.

Keep writing!

~ Underdog


About writing underdog

I'm an aspiring writer of fantasy and science fiction. I graduated from a university with a degree in Writing and a minor in Philosophy. I try to learn a little about everything. I hope to update regularly, meaning at least once per week. View all posts by writing underdog

2 responses to “Time in Fiction

  • Dreampunk Geek

    I think it is too confusing to alter the time system dramatically. We already know and trust the 24 hour day and to mess with it is to put readers out of their comfort zone. Something that we know so intimately we don’t even have to think about, now becomes something to – stop – understand – relate to the story – and then get back into the immersion of reading itself. It actually would make it less realistic for me because it would make me pause and wonder if this really is plausible.

  • Libby

    I agree with Dreampunk — it would get too confusing. However, I once read a sci-fi novel where they called a ‘year’ a ‘turn’ and a week ‘sevendays.’ The reader knew what they were talking about it without making it completely alien, but it added an authenticity that separated our world from theirs.

    I was contemplating on changing the names of the months in my writing, but I don’t think I will. Afterall, Tolkien used our months in Middle Earth. 🙂

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