World Building: Phases of the moon

I love the night sky. A lot of the scenes in my Meniscus stories happen at night, so I often mention the appearance of the moons (there are two moons on Meniscus). When I am revising/editing, this means I have to keep track of the days (sun-reels) that have passed and what phase the moon is in.

~

xolar system
Here it is, planet Meniscus, second rock from the suns!

~

To keep track of the phases of my Meniscus moons (called Cardoth grill’en and Cardoth roe) I have prepared a guide to phases of the moon. Warning, these phases are not the same as the progression of phases of Earth’s moon. For example, the moons on Meniscus move differently and so the waxing and waning occur in a different order (on Earth, the moon starts with the new moon waxing [growing] to a sickle moon as a left facing bracket and ends with the waning sickle moon as a right facing bracket; on Meniscus, the waxing and waning slivers are right and left-facing).

~

Numbers on my moon chart stand for the number of days passing.

~phases of the moon.jpg

~

Diagram of Earth’s Moon Phases:

~

Moon_Phase_Diagram_for_Simple_English_Wikipedia

(Source: By Andonee – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38635547 )

~

People have been drawing the phases of the moon for centuries. Here are some of Galileo Galilei’s sketches of the moon:

moon drawings.png

Source: The phases of the Moon’, drawing by Galileo Galilei, 1616, courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org

~

For any world building, I find tables to be very helpful during the editing phase. A Chapter by Chapter record of settings, actions, point of view, characters, passage of time,  moon phases … status of water supplies, state of healing, or anything else pertinent to the story can help resolve issues and prevent reader confusion/frustration.

An example of a simple table from part of one of my stories:

~

Ch Setting Action Point of View Characters Day # Moon Phase
42 Limestone caves in The Fault Odymn runs to build her muscle and finds Rafters Odymn Odymn Day 26 waning gibbous moon
43 City of Prell Slain tells others he is leaving for north Slain Daniel, Belnar, Vicki, Madoline, Kathryn Day 27
44 Themble Woods Odymn starts her program of parkour Odymn Odymn Day 31 waning quarter moon
45 Village of Themble Hill Belnar and Vicki arrive at Themble Hill Odymn Odymn Day 32

~

cropped-scan_20170508.jpg

~

All my best,

Alexandra (a.k.a. Jane)

Advertisements

Writing Science Fiction: symbols

The use of symbols is a key element in creative writing.

~

Symbols are settings, objects, characters or events containing layers of meaning. Beneath any literal meanings are figurative meanings that imbue the symbol with depth and significance. A common symbol encountered in literature is the ‘owl’. On one level, the owl is a feathered creature with big eyes and amazing head-turning capability; on another, figurative level, the owl is symbolic of wisdom.

~

037 (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC)
my only photo of an owl … snowy owl on the Grand Lake Meadows, December 2013

~

Mention an object once and it’s a prop, sometimes with associations. Mention it twice and the reader remembers the first mention, loaded with its connotations and denotations. Mention it three times and the associations can scream, suggest elements of plot. The object has become a symbol.

~

The use of symbols deepens meanings and helps the plot reverberate throughout the writing.

~

In the book I am currently revising (Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod, publication date July, 2019) my male character Rist wears gloves when he is with other people. Mentioned once, they are part of his wardrobe. Mentioned twice, the gloves are associated with his inability to touch the woman he loves. Mentioned more often, those gloves are a symbol of his separation from anyone he cares about. Even when other characters wear gloves, the reader is reminded of this separation, and all the associated history.

~

'hammock'
Rist, alone, wears no gloves

~

When I wrote the first draft of this book, gloves had no role in the story. As often happens, the symbol, the wearing of gloves, solved a plot problem. Once I had added the gloves, their mention had strategic importance. I also realized that gloves had already been included in the plot, in an entirely unrelated way. Once the gloves became a symbol of one character’s separation from others, their further mention built on the idea of separation and lack of understanding between cultures.

~

Scan_20180805.jpg

~

Symbols operate like mini sub-plots throughout story.  These mini-plots echo the main plot, and, during the story, the objects change in a way that illuminates it.  The mini-plots also tend to occur in three ‘beats’, providing a beginning, middle and end.  For example, gloves are at first worn in every circumstance; when they are occasionally removed, risks are taken; later, when the gloves are removed forever, intimacy can grow between characters.

~

To strengthen the use of symbols in my work, I use tables. Once I have decided which symbols will be important to my story, I build a table of symbols and note where the symbols are mentioned (the three beats) and what mini-plot is suggested. Gaps in the table suggest possible revisions.

~

Object Symbol Key Occurrences

(Chapter Number)

Mini-plot
gloves separation 7 42 65 Rist must wear gloves to avoid transfer of elements of body chemistry to other people; removing the gloves represents a step in committing to Tagret.
bell home 4 29 63 the dinner bell is introduced in Meniscus: Karst Topography (September, 2018) as a symbol of missing loved ones. In Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod, bell ringing is the first warning the Village is in peril; later, the ring of the bell is a sign community members will return.
kettle family 5 33 58 the cooking kettle was introduced in Meniscus: South from Sintha and has accompanied my characters on their various adventures. When tragedy occurs, a search for the kettle is representative of a search for a missing child; when the kettle is found, there is hope for the restoration of family.

~

Symbols seem to take on exaggerated importance in science fiction. Perhaps this is because of the association with fantasy where objects often have magical significance. Fantasy and science fiction plots often involve the ‘quest’ for a significant object. Although I am sure other story-telling includes powerful symbols (for example, the ‘car’ in The Great Gatsby, symbolic of wealth), science fiction and fantasy genres are particularly proud of theirs (for example, the ‘One Ring’ in Lord of the Rings). All the more reason to embed symbols with maximum significance and meaning.

~

IMG318_crop (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC)

~

All my best!

Alexandra

(a.k.a.Jane)