forum How do you deal with the similar to Earth Terms, EX Time, Distance
Started by Jessie

people_alt 39 followers


I have written that start of a hundred books but I am finally sitting down and getting a novel out. I am really struggling with how to change things enough so that people still understand them but yet not similar enough to earth. Its a black hole and I find myself frustrated often. Examples of this are distance, time, body part, colors, plants animals. Its fantasy and on another world, so obviously I dont want to use the term miles for distance, but does it make since to use days hours minutes. I dont want to use the same animals like lions tiger ants, but I seem forced to use terms like insects birds or reptiles. Unless i just want to say flying creature all the time. So I guess I am asking for advice on where to stop. Have you found a system that works for you?

@Yamatsu Earthbender

Unless it's a completely new creature that no one's ever heard of, use regular names and such. As for time, I created my own terms and then said "Oh, this is a base-10 unit or a base-12 unit of measure." Find a real-world equivalent and then explain it so that the person reading it understands the concept without having to explicitly say "this is basically feet or meters" or whatever else.

@Katastrophic group

Well, remember you are telling a story to people here (unless there are aliens or smth i dunno). It makes sense to "translate" the units to relatable ones. I read a lot, and mostly fantasy at that, and reading normal units doesn't ever pull me out of the immersion unless its blatantly wrong (someone used leagues as a substitute for miles but kept the actual measurement the same…) I think learning entirely new units of measurement and scientific classifications is more distracting than that, unless there is a need to distinguish a difference, for example, calling a dragon a lizard is hilarious but different enough to be classified as another species. Calling it a random word as a substitute for lizard would be more off-putting i think. Even Tolkien "translates" many of his units or animals, and even includes christmas when describing a holiday at one point.


Thanks, that makes since, I think I hate trying to explain distance the most even though I have read fantasy books that have used miles and not been put off so thats a good point.