The 29th of February: Anomaly & Inspiration

Happy 29th of February! Enjoy it while you can since it won’t be around for another 4 years. The actual day, that is. But leap year or February 29th could be in your book.

Leap Year is one of those weird true stories that is so ingrained into our culture that we accept it without really thinking about it. Yes, there are 365 days in a year except on leap year when there are 366. And millennial years are another exception (it gets confusing). Anyway, this sort of detail is exactly the type of worldbuilding that makes a world start to feel real.

Our world isn’t perfect, especially society-wise (understatement), so we associate reality with a flawed system. Little quirks like this add a sense of reality to the system, and they can be used in a variety of ways – beyond setting.

  • prophecy: the day could be added every 400 years. Prophecy’s love crap like that.
  • plot conflict: have you ever screwed up something because you forgot it was leap year? It happens, believe me.
  • characterization: people with birthdays on February 29th only have birthdays every 4 years. That means at the actual age of 96, you would turn 24 on your birthday. Your great-grandkids could be older than you (put that together with prophecy, and you have a lot of potential.).

Actually, if you combined those three in a unique world, you could have a whole story. I can see it now: the main character can’t go off to school because you have to have x number of birthdays first, the higher ups had dismissed her as fodder for the prophecy because she’s too old, and the combination leads to an adventure where she ends up saving the world. Oh, it’ll be beautiful.

Or you could write something else and have February 29th come up in a bit of banter on page 172. You know, whatever floats your boat.

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