Sometimes I drive myself a little batty with the extent I go to on some scenes to make sure everything’s about as right as it can get, even when it’s fiction. Yesterday was an excellent example of not leaving well enough alone and simply saying, “It’s a story, you know? People ain’t gonna care, yo.”
Case in point: this scene I’ve been working on for the last couple of days, the one I said has been stuck in my head, so I’ve played with the lines of time to figure out when everything happens where. It’s been a fun exercise, in part because I tried a little something different this time.
This is what time looks like when you’re viewing events as they are viewed from three different time zones. If you’d like to know, the top zone is where everything is happening: it’s GMT +10 if you’re keeping score. The middle zone is Salem, or GMT -5, and the bottom is the West Coast, or GMT -8. So the thing I’d do here is simple: I’d figure out when something happened on the West Coast, adjust for the East Coast, then add fifteen hours for where stuff was happening.
I have something else going here: the bottom of the Aeon display shows relationships. You set up the people who are involved in a scene, and then you set the dots to let you know if they are an active participant–the solid dots–or if they are just watching–the open circles. So it was a fairly simply matter, given the limited number of people in each possible scene, to figure out who was acting and who was watching–particularly when two of my characters were on the other side of the world viewing events.
See, I mentioned yesterday that in one of the smaller scenes in this event, my kids would happen into the area where all the badness happens and find themselves bathed in the warm glow of the northern lights. Sure, that’s a pretty easy thing to say, and an even easier one to write once you get it in your mind that you’re gonna start writing. And if you don’t look too hard at the reality of the situation, you can make it work.
Then I looked at the reality . . .
I decided to pop up Sky View Cafe and have a look at the sky for my little part of Mother Russia in mid-April. Even though the town where all my action happens isn’t in their search list, it’s simple enough to bring up the time zone and plug in the longitude and latitude for the location. Then I roll the clock over to 23:00–or eleven PM for some of you–and see . . .
That the sun hasn’t fully set.
This meant that the date I’d selected just wouldn’t work. I mean, I could use it, but just as Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle changed a solar system in The Mote in God’s Eye just so they could keep a single line in the story, if I wanted to keep this scene, I needed to change my dates.
Since I already knew some of the events happening in their E Levels I looked about, found a time that would work well, realized that something happened in that same period that would really help out with the scene. I checked the view in Sky View, saw that things were going to be dark at 23:00, and that was all I needed to get to work. I changed dates, moved everything ahead, and managed to keep my aurora.
The things a writer does just so they can show the wonder in their character’s eyes for a novel they haven’t written.
Yeah, it’s a thing of beauty.