Saturday, December 16, 2017

Military time for Authors.

24 hour clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

When I'm writing my Iniquus World books, I use military time. I did not serve the military in either Canada of the United States. I did use the twenty-four hour clock when I lived in Europe and that still takes some thought process.

So here's that part in a nutshell:


The hours in a twenty-four hour day does not reset at noon. You don't read 12:00pm, 1:00 pm instead you just keep counting.
0:00 = midnight
1:00 p.m = 13
2:00 p.m = 14
3:00 p.m =15
4:00 p.m = 16
5:00 p.m = 17
6:00 p.m = 18
7:00 p.m = 19
8:00 p.m = 20
9:00 p.m = 21
10:00 p.m = 22
11:00 p.m = 23
12:00 p.m = 24

Now, it's no longer necessary to denote a.m. or p.m.

The twenty-four hour clock is the international standard, so if your character is traveling check and see how time will be written in that country. If I said three in the afternoon when I lived in Europe, people would just be confused.

The twenty-four hour clock is also used in America by certain segments, I am pointing to the military in this article, but also, for example, medical and emergency services use the twenty-four hour system. When I am working a search and rescue mission, it always uses the twenty-four hour clock.

The twenty-four hour clock is often referred to as "military time." But military time and a twenty-four hour clock have some differences.

Do not use a colon in military time.

0001=12:01
0100 =1:00
0200 = 2:00
0300 = 3:00
0400 = 4:00
0500 = 5:00
0600 = 6:00
0700 = 7:00
0800 = 8:00
0900 = 9:00
1000 = 10:00
1100 = 11:00
1200 = noon
1300 = 13:00 or 1:00 pm
1400 = 14:00 or 2:00 pm
1500 = 15:00 or 3:00 pm
1600 = 16:00 or 4:00 pm
1700 = 17:00 or 5:00 pm
1800 = 18:00 or 6:00 pm
1900 = 19:00 or 7:00 pm
2000 = 20:00 or 8:00 pm
2100 = 21:00 or 9:00 pm
2200 = 22:00 or 10:00 pm
2300 = 23:00 or 11:00 pm
2400 = midnight


So if someone said, "Meet me in room 688 at 1632." It means your character should go to the room numbered 688 at 16:32 or 4:32 pm.

Is midnight 2400 or 0000?
 
When I've looked it up, I've seen it written both ways. 

When is zero dark thirty? According to Ryan Lackey,  CryptoSeal explains.
It specifically is 0030h, or 30 minutes past midnight.  It sounds dumb to say most other ways (double-zero 30, etc.).  It would specifically be ambiguous to use the alternate (zero thirty hundred hours = 0030h) for times less than 24 minutes after midnight (i.e. "zero fifteen hundred hours") since that if you missed the leading "zero", you might think it is "1500h" instead.  I've heard "zero dark thirty" a lot more often than "zero thirty hours", but never heard anything but "zero dark xx" for 2-digit values other than 30.
When I have spoken to my friends who have been in the military or are in the military they tell me it's basically any time that's late.

When your character is speaking in military time, they would say "hundred". For example: 
0800 is zero eight hundred hours
1000 is ten hundred hours 

When it wasn't the exact hour, then you just speak each number. For example:
0001 = zero zero zero one hours
0433 = zero four thirty-three hours

Again, zero is military speak "oh" being TV speak. You might have heard them say 0433 = oh four thirty-three, which would be incorrect.

You will see that I said "hours" after the time stamp. This is sometimes used and sometimes not used based on the branch of military. Also, my understanding is that when speaking it's less likely you would say "hours" but in writing you would be more likely to include "hours" for clarity's sake.

Now let's tackle ZULU (or Z)

I was just using Zulu in my novel Instigator. The problem is setting your characters in different time zones. If my character Gator, in Tanzania, wanted to talk to his colleague Lynx, in Washington DC, imagine the confusion if they agreed to talk at zero six ten hours.

When this is the case, then they use Zulu time which is the same as GMT or Greewich Mean Time. Everyone uses that as the standard time and then adjusts based on where they are. Here in DC its +5. I'm typing this at 9:15 pm est, OR 21:15, OR 2115 hours, OR twenty-one fifteen hours. BUT if I were communicating with my friend John DOlan in the Middle East and we arranged to speak now, I would have made the appointment for 0214 hours Zulu.

When I was writing Instigator, I had characters interfacing in three separate time zones. To get this right, with everyone feeling the right amount of fatigue and hunger, and seeing the right amount of light coming in through the window, I used this website 
http://www.timebie.com/std/zulu.php to help me stay organized. 

I hope this helped!
Happy writing,

Fiona