Editing Tip: Using Time in Novels

ClockTime. It’s what we’ve lived by for centuries. Whether you get shot at 6:00 am or at dawn, there’s always a time to record.

Many of us go through our daily time watching without knowing exactly what we’re saying when we’re asked, “What time is it?” and we answer, “7:45 am.”

If we are pressed for a meaning, we might say ‘am’ stands for after midnight. We’d be wrong. The abbreviation ‘am’ stands for ante meridiem which is Latin for before midday. The usual meaning I give to my kids for ‘pm’ is pre-midnight, which is also wrong. The abbreviation stands for post meridiem which translates to after midday.

But how do you record these abbreviations in your novel? Do you go with the simple am and pm? Or do you use the old fashioned way of writing them: a.m. and p.m.? Or do you use all capital letters: AM and PM?

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