Friday, August 30, 2013

At the Correct Time


 I was reading a historical novel recently. It was set in the 1800’s. “What time is it?” asked the character. The response took me aback. ‘3:18’ Okay, so what’s wrong with that? If that’s what the clock said how can it be wrong.
When I left for college as a freshman, way back in the dark ages of 1972, one of the modern things I took was a digital clock. It had sixty little flaps for the minutes and twelve for the hours. It was lit by a teeny tiny light bulb. It was the latest and greatest. The dawn of digital time.

Before the early 1970’s all clocks were round. They had numbers in a circle with hands that rotated by the minute and hour. We learned to tell time in grade school. Five after, ten after, quarter after, twenty after, twenty five after, half past, twenty five till, twenty till, quarter till, ten till, five till. You could use past or after as you chose.

Until the advent of the digital clock only in school did you refer to a time as 3:18 and that was only when we were learning how to tell time. In life you rounded to the nearest five. The author of the book I read was young enough not to realize this.
The familiarity of culture can lead to small things being just a little off when set in a different culture or time. As authors, I hope we do the little bit of research to use the correct phrasing for the time period. Maybe most readers wouldn’t note the issue. I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, so I did and thought I’d share.


Sophie Dawson writes Christian fiction. She lives with her husband and cat on a farm in western Illinois. Her Cottonwood Series novels have been Indie Book of the Day and Healing Love received first place in the genre in AuthorStand.com’s 2012 contest and a second in eLit 2012 contest. Healing Love and Giving Love are finalists for Readers' Favorites Contest 2013.
Sophie blogs one a week on her website sophie-dawson.com as well as thebarndoor.net in addition to AuthorCulture.com.
She has recently released her fourth and fifth books, Leah’s Peace and Chasing Norie.


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2 comments:

  1. Anachronisms are annoying but, sometimes for an author, can be difficult to catch. It always helps to clear such details with a historian before publication. Thanks for the reminder.

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  2. Fault the editor as well. I'm tasked with catching some doozies - lots of time phrases and words that simply weren't used during a particular era and it scares me to think what I might miss. The Beloit College (WI) annual mindset list helps. When you're done screaming, that is. http://themindsetlist.com/

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