In an early drafts of Breath of Angel, I messed with the moon. I put two moons in my fantasy world. I like two moons, and it gave me a lot of interesting side issues to deal with. But that was the problem. You can’t just plop two moons in the sky and be done with it. You have to think about orbits and tides and all sorts of contingencies that make the fantasy world interesting. But two moons didn’t have much to do with the storyline. Of course, it did give me a great way to avoid writing the story – I had to research two moons.
That was then. Now is now. I’m glad I went back to one moon. You may know that nonfiction manuscripts get vetted for the correctness of their stats and studies and references. (“Vet” is related to “veterinarian” – it evolved from an expert examining an animal to an expert examining a manuscript for correction and approval). Fiction manuscripts, too, get vetted in different ways. Scientific facts, historical facts, consistency. It all has to be as right as possible.
Back to the moon. I had to send my editor a timeline of my novel, showing specifically the amount of time that passes between scenes and chapters. My fantasy world works much like our real world as far as the passage of time. The moon waxes and wanes in a 29 1/2 day cycle. When my villain declares he will return “within one cycle of the moon,” the reader assumes (unless I’ve explained otherwise – and I haven’t) that this corresponds roughly to a month of time. Giving this time detail ups the tension, because my main character now has to work against a ticking clock (or a waning moon in this case).
As I wrote my story, I didn’t write out a time line, but it was in my head. So this week I went through the manuscript scene by scene, making sure I calculated the time correctly. For you writers, heads up. If you don’t have a timeline for your manuscript, you may find it helpful to create one. Not only will it help you skull through your story, but you may need it when the time comes for your editor to be your veterinarian.
P.S. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you leave the moon alone. Why mess with the moon unless there’s a good reason?